Gene engineered mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) have been proposed as promising tools for their various applications in biomedicine. Nevertheless, the lack of an effective and safe way to genetically modify these stem cells is still a major obstacle in the current studies. Herein, we designed novel magnetic complexes by assembling cationized pullulan derivatives with magnetic iron oxide nanoparticles for delivering target genes to MSCs. Results showed that this complexes achieved effective gene expression with the assistance of external magnetic field, and resisted the adverse effect induced by serum proteins on the gene delivery. Moreover, neither significant cytotoxicity nor the interference on the osteogenic differentiation to MSCs were observed after magnetofection. Further studies revealed that this effective and serum resistant gene transfection was partly due to the accelerated and enhanced intracellular uptake process driven by external magnetic field. To conclude, the current study presented a novel option for genetic modification of MSCs in an effective, relatively safe and serum compatible way.
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