ISSN print edition: 0366-6352
ISSN electronic edition: 1336-9075
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A study on co-modification of MSNs with some transition metals and polyethyleneimine (PEI) as a versatile strategy for efficient delivery of short oligonucleotides

Rafatosadat Badihi, Ali Mahmoudi, Mohammad Reza Sazegar, and Khodadad Nazari

Faculty of Chemistry, North Tehran Branch, Islamic Azad University, Hakimiyeh, Tehran, Iran



Received: 15 February 2022  Accepted: 20 July 2022


In this research, mesoporous silica nanoparticles (MSNs) were synthesized and hydrothermally modified with different transition metals, including Co2+, Fe2+, and Zn2+. The obtained samples (M-MSN) were further modified with polyethyleneimine (PEI) to give PEI-M-MSNs. These were studied for adsorption and desorption of siRNA molecules from phosphate-buffered saline (PBS). A direct relationship was observed between the adsorption capacity of each modified MSN sample and its zeta potential. As a result of high cationic nature of the PEI modifier and low ionic radius of Zn2+, PEI-Zn-MSN showed the highest siRNA adsorption capacity. Release of siRNA from the PEI-ZnMSN was just as good as its adsorption (37.6 vs. 42.5 µg/mg). Zeta potential of the samples seems to be a more important factor than their specific surface area. Pure MSN with the BET surface area of 1060 m2 g−1 showed the lowest siRNA adsorption capacity. PEI-Co-MSN, on the other hand, showed an unexpected low BET surface area of 208.9 m2 g−1. The very low adsorption capacity of the PEI-Co-MSN can be attributed to the destruction of the mesoporous framework, caused by the formation of Co3O4 nanoparticles, according to the XRD results. To obtain a sustained release profile, effect of the polyethyleneglycol (PEG) was studied. When a layer of PEG polymer was grafted on the surface, a sustained release profile was achieved and the PEGylated vehicle (PEG-PEI-Zn-MSN) showed tolerable cytotoxicity against normal human fibroblast cells according to the MTT test. The results of the present study may introduce the PEG-PEI-Zn-MSN as a versatile vehicle for efficient siRNA delivery.

Keywords: siRNA; Delivery; MSN; Modification; Zinc; PEI

Full paper is available at

DOI: 10.1007/s11696-022-02387-7


Chemical Papers 76 (11) 7023–7035 (2022)

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