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Journal of Biomedicine and Biotechnology
Volume 2010, Article ID 103976, 11 pages
Research Article

Impact of Lentiviral Vector-Mediated Transduction on the Tightness of a Polarized Model of Airway Epithelium and Effect of Cationic Polymer Polyethylenimine

Department of Biomedical Sciences, University of Foggia, 71122 Foggia, Italy

Received 24 December 2009; Revised 31 March 2010; Accepted 9 May 2010

Academic Editor: Karl Chai

Copyright © 2010 Stefano Castellani et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Lentiviral (LV) vectors are promising agents for efficient and long-lasting gene transfer into the lung and for gene therapy of genetically determined pulmonary diseases, such as cystic fibrosis, however, they have not been evaluated for cytotoxicity and impact on the tightness of the airway epithelium. In this study, we evaluated the transduction efficiency of a last-generation LV vector bearing Green Fluorescent Protein (GFP) gene as well as cytotoxicity and tight junction (TJ) integrity in a polarized model of airway epithelial cells. High multiplicities of infection (MOI) showed to be cytotoxic, as assessed by increase in propidium iodide staining and decrease in cell viability, and harmful for the epithelial tightness, as demonstrated by the decrease of transepithelial resistance (TER) and delocalization of occludin from the TJs. To increase LV efficiency at low LV:cell ratio, we employed noncovalent association with the polycation branched 25 kDa polyethylenimine (PEI). Transduction of cells with PEI/LV particles resulted in 2.5–3.6-fold increase of percentage of GFP-positive cells only at the highest PEI:LV ratios (  PEI molecules/transducing units with 50 MOI LV) as compared to plain LV. At this dose PEI/LV transduction resulted in % of propidium iodide-positive cells. On the other hand, PEI/LV particles did not determine any alteration of TER and occludin localization. We conclude that PEI may be useful for improving the efficiency of gene transfer mediated by LV vectors in airway epithelial cells, in the absence of high acute cytotoxicity and alteration in epithelial tightness.