Sustained delivery of siRNA poly- and lipopolyplexes from porous macromer-crosslinked gelatin gels

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RNA interference (RNAi) is a promising technique to treat severe diseases on a pre-protein level. We and others postulate that the release of nanoparticle-complexed small interfering RNA (siRNA) from implanted biomaterials could provide structural support for tissue repair, combined with local siRNA transfection of invading and regenerating cells. In this study, we systematically investigated cross-linked gelatin based hydrogel formulations (cGEL) as degradable controlled release matrices for siRNA. Aiming at the definition of correlations between cGEL composition, siRNA nanoparticle formulation, release kinetics of complexed siRNA and transfection efficiency, we combined five different cGEL formulations and three transfection systems, i.e. polyplexes with polyethyleneimine (PEI), PEI in combination with liposomes (lipopolyplexes) and polyplexes based on tyrosin-modified PEI (P10Y). It was found that the distribution of these poly-/lipopolyplexes, when applied onto the negatively charged hydrogels, was strongly dependent on their zeta potential. Furthermore, siRNA release from the hydrogel was a multifactorial process, as diffusion, hydrogel degradation and nanoparticle decomplexation overlapped over time. This resulted in a prolonged release of siRNA for up to 21 days. In the case of PEI complexes and lipopolyplexes, release kinetics depended on the cGEL formulation. In contrast, when employing P10Y polyplexes, an initial burst release was observed with no further release thereafter. Silencing activity was determined using constitutively luciferase-expressing SKOV-3-Luc reporter cells. Surface and bulk porosity in hydrogels was introduced by addition of soluble polyethylene glycol during fabrication, leading to improved knockdown. The rapid onset of knockdown efficacy will also provide the basis for the determination of long-term effects.

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