Functionalization of microparticles with mineral coatings enhances non-viral transfection of primary human cells

Sci Rep. 2017 Oct 27;7(1):14211. doi: 10.1038/s41598-017-14153-x.


Gene delivery to primary human cells is a technology of critical interest to both life science research and therapeutic applications. However, poor efficiencies in gene transfer and undesirable safety profiles remain key limitations in advancing this technology. Here, we describe a materials-based approach whereby application of a bioresorbable mineral coating improves microparticle-based transfection of plasmid DNA lipoplexes in several primary human cell types. In the presence of these mineral-coated microparticles (MCMs), we observed up to 4-fold increases in transfection efficiency with simultaneous reductions in cytotoxicity. We identified mechanisms by which MCMs improve transfection, as well as coating compositions that improve transfection in three-dimensional cell constructs. The approach afforded efficient transfection in primary human fibroblasts as well as mesenchymal and embryonic stem cells for both two- and three-dimensional transfection strategies. This MCM-based transfection is an advancement in gene delivery technology, as it represents a non-viral approach that enables highly efficient, localized transfection and allows for transfection of three-dimensional cell constructs.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Cell Membrane / metabolism
  • DNA / chemistry
  • DNA / genetics
  • Drug Carriers / chemistry*
  • Drug Carriers / metabolism
  • Drug Carriers / toxicity
  • Fibroblasts / cytology
  • Fibroblasts / drug effects
  • Fluorides / chemistry
  • Humans
  • Lipids / chemistry
  • Microspheres*
  • Minerals / chemistry*
  • Nanostructures / chemistry
  • Transfection*
  • Transgenes / genetics


  • Drug Carriers
  • Lipids
  • Minerals
  • DNA
  • Fluorides