Selective Control of Cell Activity with Hydrophilic Polymer-Covered Cationic Nanoparticles

Hsiu-Pen Lin, Jun Akimoto*, Yaw-Kuen Li*, Yoshihiro Ito*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Cationic polymers exhibit high cytotoxicity via strong interaction with cell membranes. To reduce cell membrane damage, a hydrophilic polymer is introduced to the cationic nanoparticle surface. The hydrophilic polymer coating of cationic nanoparticles resulted in a nearly neutral nanoparticle. These particles are applied to mouse fibroblast (3T3) and human cervical adenocarcinoma (Hela) cells. Interestingly, nanoparticles with a long cationic segment decrease cell activity regardless of cell type, while those with a short segment only affect 3T3 cell activity at lower concentrations less than 500 mu g mL(-1). Most nanoparticles are located inside 3T3 cells but on the cell membrane of Hela cells. The short cationic nanoparticle shows negligible cell membrane damage despite its high accumulation on Hela cell membranes. Cell activity changed by hydrophilic polymer-coated cationic nanoparticles is caused by incorporated nanoparticle accumulation in the cells, not cell membrane damage. To suppress the cytotoxicity from the cationic polymer, cationic nanoparticle needs to completely cover with hydrophilic polymer so as not to exhibit the cationic effect and applies to cell with low concentrations to reduce the nonselective cytotoxicity from the cationic polymer.

Original languageEnglish
Article number2000049
Number of pages8
JournalMacromolecular Bioscience
StateE-pub ahead of print - 6 Apr 2020


  • cationic polymers
  • cellular membranes
  • cytotoxicity
  • hydrophilic polymer coating
  • nanoparticles
  • PEI

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