Intracellular protein delivery may provide a safe and non-genome integrated strategy for targeting abnormal or specific cells for applications in cell reprogramming therapy. Thus, highly efficient intracellular functional protein delivery would be beneficial for protein drug discovery. In this study, we generated a cationic polyethyleneimine (PEI)-modified gelatin nanoparticle and evaluated its intracellular protein delivery ability in vitro and in vivo. The experimental results showed that the PEI-modified gelatin nanoparticle had a zeta potential of approximately +60 mV and the particle size was approximately 135 nm. The particle was stable at different biological pH values and temperatures and high protein loading efficiency was observed. The fluorescent image results revealed that large numbers of particles were taken up into the mammalian cells and escaped from the endosomes into the cytoplasm. In a mouse C26 cell-xenograft cancer model, particles accumulated in cancer cells. In conclusion, the PEI-modified gelatin particle may provide a biodegradable and highly efficient protein delivery system for use in regenerative medicine and cancer therapy.
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