In vivo safety evaluation of polyarginine coated magnetic nanovectors

Omid Veiseh, Forrest M. Kievit, Vicki Liu, Chen Fang, Zachary R. Stephen, Richard G. Ellenbogen, Miqin Zhang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


Safety and efficacy are of critical importance to any nanomaterial-based diagnostic and therapy. The innocuity and functionality of a nanomaterial in vivo is largely dependent on the physicochemical properties of the material, particularly its surface coating. Here, we evaluated the influence of polycationic coating on the efficacy, clearance organ uptake, and safety of magnetic nanovectors designed for siRNA delivery. Polyethylene glycol (PEG) coated superparamagnetic iron oxide nanoparticles (NPs) of 12 nm in core diameter were modified with a polycationic coating of either poly-l-arginine (pArg) or polyethylenimine (PEI) and further covalently functionalized with siRNA oligonucleotides. The produced NP-pArg-siRNA and NP-PEI-siRNA nanovectors were similar in hydrodynamic size (21 and 22 nm, respectively) but significantly differed in zeta potentials (+2.1 mV and +29.8 mV, respectively). Fluorescence quantification assays revealed that the NP-pArg-siRNA nanovector was 3-fold more potent than NP-PEI-siRNA in delivering siRNA and 1.8-fold more effective in gene silencing when tested in rat C6 glioblastoma cells. In vivo, both nanovector formulations were similarly taken up by the spleen and liver as determined by histopathological and hemopathological assays. However, PEI coated nanovectors elicited severe hemoincompatibility and damage to the liver and spleen, while pArg coated nanovectors were found to be safe and tolerable. Combined, our findings suggest that polycationic coatings of pArg were more effective and safer than commonly used PEI coatings for preparation of nanovectors. The NP-pArg-siRNA nanovector formulation developed here shows great potential for in vivo based biomedical applications.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)4099-4106
Number of pages8
JournalMolecular Pharmaceutics
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 4 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • cancer
  • gene therapy
  • iron oxide nanoparticle
  • nanotechnology
  • siRNA

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Medicine
  • Pharmaceutical Science
  • Drug Discovery


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