, Volume 20, Issue 10, pp 1543-1550

Engineering of Dendrimer Surfaces to Enhance Transepithelial Transport and Reduce Cytotoxicity

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Purpose. To evaluate the cytotoxicity, permeation, and transport mechanisms of PAMAM dendrimers and surface-modified cationic PAMAM dendrimers using monolayers of the human colon adenocarcinoma cell line, Caco-2.

Methods. Cytotoxicity was determined using the MTT assay. The effect of dendrimers on monolayer integrity was determined from measurements of transepithelial electrical resistance (TEER) and [14C]mannitol apparent permeability coefficient (Papp). The Papp of dendrimers through monolayers was measured in both the apical (A)-to-basolateral (B) and B→A directions at 4°C and 37°C and also in the presence and absence of ethylenediamine tetraacetic acid (EDTA) and colchicine.

Results. The cytotoxicity and permeation of dendrimers increased with both concentration and generation. The cytotoxicity of cationic dendrimers (G2, G3, G4) was greater than that of anionic dendrimers (G2.5, G3.5) but was reduced by conjugation with lauroyl chloride; the least cytotoxic conjugates were those with six attached lauroyl chains. At 37°C the Papp of cationic dendrimers was higher than that of anionic dendrimers and, in general, increased with the number of attached lipid chains. Cationic dendrimers decreased TEER and significantly increased the Papp of mannitol. Modified dendrimers also reduced TEER and caused a more marked increase in the Papp of mannitol. The Papp values of dendrimers and modified dendrimers were higher in the presence of EDTA, lower in the presence of colchicine, and lower at 4°C than at 37°C.

Conclusions. The properties of dendrimers may be significantly modified by surface engineering. Conjugation of cationic PAMAM dendrimers with lauroyl chloride decreased their cytotoxicity and increased their permeation through Caco-2 cell monolayers. Both PAMAM dendrimers and lauroyl-PAMAM dendrimer conjugates can cross epithelial monolayers by paracellular and transcellular pathways.