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Multimodal Analysis of PEI-Mediated Endocytosis of Nanoparticles in Neural Cells

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posted on 22.02.2016, 14:01 by Cameron W. Evans, Melinda Fitzgerald, Tristan D. Clemons, Michael J. House, Benjamin S. Padman, Jeremy A. Shaw, Martin Saunders, Alan R. Harvey, Bogdan Zdyrko, Igor Luzinov, Gabriel A. Silva, Sarah A. Dunlop, K. Swaminathan Iyer
Polymer nanoparticles are widely used as a highly generalizable tool to entrap a range of different drugs for controlled or site-specific release. However, despite numerous studies examining the kinetics of controlled release, the biological behavior of such nanoparticles remains poorly understood, particularly with respect to endocytosis and intracellular trafficking. We synthesized polyethylenimine-decorated polymer nanospheres (ca. 100–250 nm) of the type commonly used for drug release and used correlated electron microscopy, fluorescence spectroscopy and microscopy, and relaxometry to track endocytosis in neural cells. These capabilities provide insight into how polyethylenimine mediates the entry of nanoparticles into neural cells and show that polymer nanosphere uptake involves three distinct steps, namely, plasma membrane attachment, fluid-phase as well as clathrin- and caveolin-independent endocytosis, and progressive accumulation in membrane-bound intracellular vesicles. These findings provide detailed insight into how the intracellular delivery of nanoparticles is mediated by polyethylenimine, which is presently the most commonly used nonviral gene transfer agent. This fundamental knowledge may also assist in the preparation of next-generation nonviral vectors.