Pharmaceutical Research

, Volume 24, Issue 3, pp 438–449 | Cite as

Lipid-based Nanoparticles for Nucleic Acid Delivery

Expert Review



Lipid-based colloidal particles have been extensively studied as systemic gene delivery carriers. The topic that we would like to emphasize is the formulation/assembly of lipid-based nanoparticles (NP) with diameter under 100 nm for delivering nucleic acid in vivo. NP are different from cationic lipid–nucleic acid complexes (lipoplexes) and are vesicles composed of lipids and encapsulated nucleic acids with a diameter less than 100 nm. The diameter of the NP is an important attribute to enable NP to overcome the various in vivo barriers for systemic gene delivery such as: the blood components, reticuloendothelial system (RES) uptake, tumor access, extracellular matrix components, and intracellular barriers. The major formulation factors that impact the diameter and encapsulation efficiency of DNA-containing NP include the lipid composition, nucleic acid to lipid ratio and formulation method. The particle assembly step is a critical one to make NP suitable for in vivo gene delivery. NP are often prepared using a dialysis method either from an aqueous-detergent or aqueous-organic solvent mixture. The resulting particles have diameters about 100 nm and nucleic acid encapsulation ratios are >80%. Additional components can then be added to the particle after it is formed. This ordered assembly strategy enables one to optimize the particle physico-chemical attributes to devise a biocompatible particle with increased gene transfer efficacy in vivo. The components included in the sequentially assembled NP include: poly(ethylene glycol) (PEG)-shielding to improve the particle pharmacokinetic behavior, a targeting ligand to facilitate the particle–cell recognition and in some case a bioresponsive lipid or pH-triggered polymer to enhance nucleic acid release and intracellular trafficking. A number of groups have observed that a PEG-shielded NP is a robust and modestly effective system for systemic gene or small interfering RNA (siRNA) delivery.

Key words

DNA gene therapy liposome oligonucleotide small interfering RNA 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Departments of Biopharmaceutical Sciences and Pharmaceutical Chemistry, School of PharmacyUniversity of California at San FranciscoSan FranciscoUSA
  2. 2.Bayer Pharmaceuticals CorporationBerkeleyUSA

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