Stimuli-Responsive Polymeric Nanocarriers for Efficient Gene Delivery

  • Yingqin Li
  • Jinbiao Gao
  • Chao Zhang
  • Zhong Cao
  • Du Cheng
  • Jie Liu
  • Xintao Shuai
Part of the following topical collections:
  1. Polymeric Gene Delivery Systems


Gene therapy provides an alternative and effective method for treatment of genetic diseases and cancers that are refractory to conventional therapeutics. The success of gene therapy is largely dependent on the development of safe and effective gene delivery vectors for transporting genetic material from the blood stream to the cytoplasm or nucleus. Current gene vectors can be divided into viral and non-viral vectors. Although non-viral gene delivery carriers can offer some advantages, such as safety and facile fabrication, they do not possess the same high gene transfection efficiency as viral vectors due to a lack of functionality to overcome extra- and intracellular gene delivery obstacles. On the basis of these disadvantages, researchers are developing “smart” non-viral gene-delivery carriers in order to overcome the physiological barriers and realize efficient gene transfection. These “smart” stimuli-responsive carriers can undergo physical or chemical reactions in response to internal tumor-specific environments, such as pH conditions, redox potentials, enzymatic activations and thermal gradients, as well as external stimulations, such as ultrasound, light, magnetic fields, and electrical fields. Furthermore, “smart” carriers can also be triggered by dual or multiple combinations of different stimuli. In this review, we highlight the recent stimuli-sensitive polymeric nanocarriers for gene delivery, and we discuss the potential of combining multiple stimuli-responsive strategies for future gene therapy applications.


Stimuli-responsive Gene therapy Polymer Non-viral vector Nanocarriers 





Adeno-associated viruses


Acoustic droplet vaporization


Antisense oligodeoxy nucleotides


Adenosine triphosphate


Azobenzene-trimethylammonium bromide


Bis-aryl hydrazone




Carboxymethyl dextran






Degradability of disulfide cross-linked short PEIs


Activatable cell-penetrating peptide


Glutamic acid-alanine-leucine-alanine


Green fluorescent protein


Gamma-interferon-inducible lysosomal thiol reductase


Gold nanorod




Hepatocellular carcinoma


Herpes simplex viruses




Ketal containing poly (β-amino esters)


Low critical solution temperature




Magnetic field


Methyl methacrylate


Matrix metalloproteinases

MN core

Magnetic nanopartical core


Membrane translocation peptides


Poly(ethylene glycol)-b-poly(l-lysine)


o-Nitrobenzyl urethane


Near infrared




Poly (acrylic acid)


Poly(alkylene oxides)


Poly(amino thioketal)


Phenylboronic acid


Poly (butyl acrylicacid)


Poly(β-amino ester)


Poly(2-(diethylamino)ethyl methacrylate)


Poly(2-dimethylaminoethyl methacrylate)


Poly(ethyl acrylic acid)


Poly(ethylethylene phosphate)-block-poly[2-(dimethylamino)ethyl methacrylate]


Polyethylene glycol




Poly-(ethylene oxide)-poly(propylene oxide)-poly(ethylene oxide)




Poly(glutamic acid)-g-MeO-poly(ethylene glycol)


PEG-b-P (PrMA-co-MAA)


Poly (l-histidine)




Poly (l-lysine)


Poly (meth acrylic acid)


Poly (N-isopropylacrylamide)


Poly (propyl acrylic acid)




Pluronic/polyethylenimine to embedded magnetite nanocrystals


Photo- and pH-responsive polypeptides




Reticuloe endothelin system


Reactive oxygen species


Sodium dodecylbenzenesulfonate


Sodium dodecylsulfate


siRNA molecules targeting GFP


Superparamagnetic oxide nanoparticle


Disulfide-containing polyethylenimine


Ultrasound contrast agents


Upper critical solution temperature


Upconversion nanoparticles


Urokinase plasminogen activator


Ultrasound contrast agents





This work was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (51225305, U1401242), the Natural Science Foundation of Guangdong Province (2016A030313315, 2014A030312018), the Science and Technology Planning Project of Guangdong Province (2015A050502024), the Tip-top Scientific and Technical Innovative Youth Talents of Guangdong Special Support Program (2014TQ01R651), the Fundamental Research Funds for the Central Universities (161gzd05) and the China Scholarship Council (CSC).


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Biomedical Engineering, School of EngineeringSun Yat-sen UniversityGuangzhouChina
  2. 2.PCFM Lab of Ministry of Education, School of Material Science and EngineeringSun Yat-sen UniversityGuangzhouChina

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