Maximizing RNA Loading for Gene Silencing Using Porous Silicon Nanoparticles

Terence Tieu, Sameer Dhawan, V. Haridas, Lisa M. Butler, Helmut Thissen, Anna Cifuentes-Rius, Nicolas H. Voelcker

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

27 Citations (Scopus)


Gene silencing by RNA interference is a powerful technology with broad applications. However, this technology has been hampered by the instability of small interfering RNA (siRNA) molecules in physiological conditions and their inefficient delivery into the cytoplasm of target cells. Porous silicon nanoparticles have emerged as a potential delivery vehicle to overcome these limitations - being able to encapsulate RNA molecules within the porous matrix and protect them from degradation. Here, key variables were investigated that influence siRNA loading into porous silicon nanoparticles. The effect of modifying the surface of porous silicon nanoparticles with various amino-functional molecules as well as the effects of salt and chaotropic agents in facilitating siRNA loading was examined. Maximum siRNA loading of 413 μg/(mg of porous silicon nanoparticles) was found when the nanoparticles were modified by a fourth generation polyamidoamine dendrimer. Low concentrations of urea or salt increased loading capacity: an increase in RNA loading by 19% at a concentration of 0.05 M NaCl or 21% at a concentration of 0.25 M urea was observed when compared to loading in water. Lastly, it was demonstrated that dendrimer-functionalized nanocarriers are able to deliver siRNA against ELOVL5, a target for the treatment of advanced prostate cancer.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)22993-23005
Number of pages13
JournalACS Applied Materials & Interfaces
Issue number26
Publication statusPublished - 5 Jun 2019


  • gene delivery
  • nanoparticles
  • porous silicon
  • RNA
  • siRNA

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