Ultrasonic Nebulization of Cationic Lipid-Based Gene Delivery Systems for Airway Administration

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This study relates to the development of gene therapies for the treatment of lung diseases. It describes for the first time the use of ultrasonic nebulization for administration of plasmid/lipid complexes to the lungs to transfect lung epithelial cells.


Plasmid complexed to cationic liposomes at a specific stoichiometric ratio was nebulized using an ultrasonic nebulizer. We assessed: (i) the stability of plasmid and plasmid/lipid complexes to ultrasonic nebulization, (ii) the in vitro activity of plasmid in previously nebulized plasmid/lipid complex, (iii) the in vivo transgene expression in lungs following intratracheal instillation of nebulized plasmid/lipid formulations compared to un-nebulized complexes, (iv) the emitted dose from an ultrasonic nebulizer using plasmid/lipid complexes of different size, and (v) the transgene expression in lungs following oral inhalation of aerosolized plasmid/lipid complex generated using an ultrasonic nebulizer.


Integrity of plasmid formulated with cationic lipids, and colloidal stability of the plasmid/lipid complex were maintained during nebulization. In contrast, plasmid alone formulated in 10% lactose was fragmented during nebulization. The efficiency of transfection of the complex before and after nebulization was comparable. Nebulization produced respirable aerosol particles. Oral exposure of rodents for 10 minutes to aerosol produced from the ultrasonic nebulizer resulted in transgene expression in lungs in vivo.


The performance characteristics of the ultrasonic nebulizer with our optimized plasmid/lipid formulations suggests that this device can potentially be used for administering gene medicines to the airways in clinical settings for the treatment of respiratory disorders.

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