Evaluation of cystamine-modified hyaluronic acid/chitosan polyplex as retinal gene vector

Ana V. Oliveira, Adriana Marcelo, Ana M. Rosa da Costa, Gabriela A. Silva

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose A successful gene therapy approach can prevent or treat congenital and acquired diseases. However, there is still no ideal non-viral vector for gene delivery in a safe and timely manner. In this report the anionic polymer hyaluronic acid (HA) was investigated as a potential vector for gene therapy. Due to its intrinsic characteristics it constitutes an excellent candidate to deliver therapeutic genes, pending the modification of its surface charge. Methods To modify its charge, HA was modified with cystamine. Several formulations were prepared using modified HA combined with sodium sulfate, sodium triphosphate, K-carrageenan and chitosan. Vectors were characterized with respect to size, charge, DNA load and its protection, and effect on cell viability. The better performing formulations were further evaluated in vitro for their transfection efficiency in HEK293T and ARPE-19 cells. Results Cell viability assays showed low cytotoxicity for both polymers. Gene transfer efficiency depended on cell line and formulation, but no increased transfection efficiency was observed with the modified polymer. Conclusions HA has great potential as a gene therapy vector, but further optimization, including incorporation of a higher percentage of positive groups in HA, is needed before its use as a gene delivery vector.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)264-272
Number of pages9
JournalMaterials Science and Engineering C
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2016


  • Biocompatibility
  • Gene therapy
  • Hyaluronic acid
  • Polymer modification
  • Retina


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