Modulation of pyridinium cationic lipid-DNA complex properties by pyridinium gemini surfactants and its impact on lipoplex transfection properties

Vishnu Dutt Sharma, Julia Lees, Nicholas E. Hoffman, Eugen Brailoiu, Muniswamy Madesh, Stephanie L. Wunder, Marc A. Ilies

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

48 Scopus citations


The study presents the effects of blending a cationic gemini surfactant into cationic lipid bilayers and its impact on the plasmid DNA compaction and delivery process. Using nanoDSC, dynamic light scattering, zeta potential, and electrophoretic mobility measurements, together with transfection (2D- and 3D-) and viability assays, we identified the main physicochemical parameters of the lipid bilayers, liposomes, and lipoplexes that are affected by the gemini surfactant addition. We also correlated the cationic bilayer composition with the dynamics of the DNA compaction process and with transfection efficiency, cytotoxicity, and the internalization mechanism of the resultant nucleic acid complexes. We found that the blending of gemini surfactant into the cationic bilayers fluidized the supramolecular assemblies, reduced the amount of positive charge required to fully compact the plasmid DNA and, in certain cases, changed the internalization mechanism of the lipoplexes. The transfection efficiency of select ternary lipoplexes derived from cationic gemini surfactants and lipids was several times superior to the transfection efficiency of corresponding binary lipoplexes, also surpassing standard transfection systems. The overall impact of gemini surfactants into the formation and dynamic of cationic bilayers was found to depend heavily on the presence of colipids, their nature, and amount present in lipoplexes. The study confirmed the possibility of combining the specific properties of pyridinium gemini surfactants and cationic lipids synergistically to obtain efficient synthetic transfection systems with negligible cytotoxicity useful for therapeutic gene delivery.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)545-559
Number of pages15
JournalMolecular Pharmaceutics
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 3 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • cationic lipid
  • gemini surfactant
  • lipoplex
  • pyridinium
  • synergy
  • transfection

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Drug Discovery
  • Molecular Medicine
  • Pharmaceutical Science


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