Octadecyl chain-bearing PEGylated poly(propyleneimine)-based dendrimersomes: physicochemical studies, redox-responsiveness, DNA condensation, cytotoxicity and gene delivery to cancer cells

Biomater Sci. 2021 Feb 21;9(4):1431-1448. doi: 10.1039/d0bm01441a. Epub 2021 Jan 6.


Stimuli-responsive nanocarriers have become increasingly important for nucleic acid and drug delivery in cancer therapy. Here, we report the synthesis, characterization and evaluation of disulphide-linked, octadecyl (C18 alkyl) chain-bearing PEGylated generation 3-diaminobutyric polypropylenimine dendrimer-based vesicles (or dendrimersomes) for gene delivery. The lipid-bearing PEGylated dendrimer was successfully synthesized through in situ two-step reaction. It was able to spontaneously self-assemble into stable, cationic, nanosized vesicles, with low critical aggregation concentration value, and also showed redox-responsiveness in presence of a glutathione concentration similar to that of the cytosolic reducing environment. In addition, it was able to condense more than 70% of DNA at dendrimer: DNA weight ratios of 5 : 1 and higher. This dendriplex resulted in an enhanced cellular uptake of DNA at dendrimer: DNA weight ratios of 10 : 1 and 20 : 1, by up to 16-fold and by up to 28-fold compared with naked DNA in PC-3 and DU145 prostate cancer cell lines respectively. At a dendrimer: DNA weight ratio of 20 : 1, it led to an increase in gene expression in PC-3 and DU145 cells, compared with DAB dendriplex. These octadecyl chain-bearing, PEGylated dendrimer-based vesicles are therefore promising redox-sensitive drug and gene delivery systems for potential applications in combination cancer therapy.

MeSH terms

  • DNA / genetics
  • Dendrimers*
  • Gene Transfer Techniques
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Neoplasms*
  • Oxidation-Reduction
  • Polyethylene Glycols
  • Polypropylenes


  • Dendrimers
  • Polypropylenes
  • poly(propyleneimine)
  • Polyethylene Glycols
  • DNA