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We investigated the efficiency of activated polyamidoamine dendrimers, a new class of nonviral vectors, to transfect rabbit and human corneas in ex vivo culture. In addition to assessing the expression of a marker gene we have demonstrated that this approach can be used to induce the production of TNF receptor fusion protein (TNFR-Ig), a protein with therapeutic potential. Whole thickness rabbit or human corneas were transfected ex vivo with complexes consisting of dendrimers and plasmids containing lacZ or TNFR-Ig genes. Following optimisation 6-10% of the corneal endothelial cells expressed the marker gene. Expression was restricted to the endothelium and was maximal after transfection with 18:1 (w/w) activated dendrimer:plasmid DNA ratio and culture for 3 days. The supernatant of corneas transfected with TNFR-Ig plasmid contained TNFR-Ig protein which was able to inhibit TNF-mediated cytotoxicity in a bioassay. We have therefore shown that activated dendrimers are an efficient nonviral vector capable of transducing corneal endothelial cells ex vivo. They may have applications in gene-based approaches aimed at prevention of corneal allograft rejection or in treatment of other disorders of corneal endothelium.

Original publication




Journal article


Gene Ther

Publication Date





939 - 943


Animals, Antigens, CD, Culture Techniques, Endothelium, Corneal, Genetic Vectors, Humans, Immunoglobulin Fc Fragments, Immunoglobulin G, Rabbits, Receptors, Tumor Necrosis Factor, Receptors, Tumor Necrosis Factor, Type I, Recombinant Fusion Proteins, Time Factors, Transfection