Polycation-functionalized nanoporous silicon particles for gene silencing on breast cancer cells

Mingzhen Zhang, Rong Xu, Xiaojun Xia, Yong Yang, Jianhua Gu, Guoting Qin, Xuewu Liu, Mauro Ferrari, Haifa Shen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

47 Scopus citations


Nanoporous silicon particles (pSi), with a pore size in the range of 20-60nm, were modified with polyethyleneimine (PEI) to yield pSi-PEI particles, which were subsequently complexed with siRNA. Thus, pSi-PEI/siRNA particles were fabricated, with the PEI/siRNA nanocomplexes mainly anchored inside the nanopore of the pSi particles. These hybrid particles were used as carriers to deliver siRNA to human breast cancer cells. Due to the gradual degradation of the pSi matrix under physiological conditions, the PEI/siRNA nanocomplexes were released from the pore interior in a sustained manner. Physicochemical characterization revealed that the released PEI/siRNA nanocomplexes exhibited well-defined spherical shape and narrow particle size distribution between 15 and 30nm. Gene knockdown against the ataxia telangiectasia mutated (ATM) cancer gene showed dramatic gene silencing efficacy. Moreover, comprehensive biocompatibility studies were performed for the pSi-PEI/siRNA particles both invitro and invivo and demonstrated that the pSi-PEI particles exhibited significantly enhanced biocompatibility. As a consequence, PEI-modified porous silicon particles may have substantial potential as safe and effective siRNA delivery systems.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)423-431
Number of pages9
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2014


  • Breast cancer
  • Non-viral gene delivery
  • Polyplex
  • Porous silicon particles
  • SiRNA

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biomaterials
  • Bioengineering
  • Ceramics and Composites
  • Mechanics of Materials
  • Biophysics


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