Lactoferrin-bearing gold nanocages for gene delivery in prostate cancer cells in vitro

Jamal Almowalad, Sukrut Somani, Partha Laskar, Jitkasem Meewan, Rothwelle J. Tate, Margaret Mullin, Christine Dufès

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Background: Gold nanocages have been widely used as multifunctional platforms for drug and gene delivery, as well as photothermal agents for cancer therapy. However, their potential as gene delivery systems for cancer treatment has been reported in combination with chemotherapeutics and photothermal therapy, but not in isolation so far. The purpose of this work was to investigate whether the conjugation of gold nanocages with the cancer targeting ligand lactoferrin, polyethylene glycol and polyethylenimine, could lead to enhanced transfection efficiency on prostate cancer cells in vitro, without assistance of external stimulation.

Methods: Novel lactoferrin-bearing gold nanocages conjugated to polyethylenimine and polyethylene glycol have been synthesized and characterized. Their transfection efficacy and cytotoxicity were assessed on PC-3 prostate cancer cell line following complexation with a plasmid DNA.

Results: Lactoferrin-bearing gold nanocages, alone or conjugated with polyethylenimine and polyethylene glycol, were able to condense DNA at conjugate: DNA weight ratios 10:1 and higher. Among all gold conjugates, the highest gene expression was obtained following treatment with gold complex conjugated with polyethylenimine and lactoferrin, at weight ratio 40:1, which was 1.71-fold higher than with polyethylenimine. This might be due to the increased DNA cellular uptake observed with this conjugate, by up to 8.65-fold in comparison with naked DNA.

Conclusion: Lactoferrin-bearing gold nanocages conjugates are highly promising gene delivery systems to prostate cancer cells.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4391-4407
Number of pages17
JournalInternational Journal of Nanomedicine
Publication statusPublished - 30 Jun 2021


  • gold nanocages
  • cancer targeting
  • transfection efficacy
  • lactoferrin
  • polethylenimine
  • polyethylene glycol

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