Background: Gene transfer into many cell types has been successfully used to develop alternative and adjunct approaches to conventional medical treatment. However, effective transfection of postmitotic neurons remains a challenge. The aim of this study was to develop a method for gene transfer into rat primary dorsal root ganglion neurons using sonoporation. Methods: Dissociated cells from adult rat dorsal root ganglion (DRG) cells were sonicated for 1-8 s at 2.5-10 W to determine the optimal ultrasound duration and power for gene transfection and cell survival. Transfection efficiency was compared between sonoporation, liposome and lentiviral vector gene transfer techniques. Results: The optimum ultrasound intensity was 5 W for 2 s and yielded an efficiency of gene transfection of 31% and a survival rate of 35%. Conclusions: Sonoporation can be optimized to minimize cell death and yield a high percentage of transfected neurons and that this technique can be easily applied to primary cultures of rat dorsal root ganglion neurons.
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