Original Article

Gene Therapy (2017) 24, 282–289; doi:10.1038/gt.2017.13; published online 9 March 2017

Live-cell imaging to compare the transfection and gene silencing efficiency of calcium phosphate nanoparticles and a liposomal transfection agent

S Chernousova1 and M Epple1

1Inorganic Chemistry and Center for Nanointegration Duisburg-Essen (CeNIDE), University of Duisburg-Essen, Essen, Germany

Correspondence: Professor M Epple, Inorganic Chemistry, University of Duisburg-Essen, Universitaetsstrasse 5-7, D-45117 Essen, Germany. E-mail: matthias.epple@uni-due.de

Received 23 November 2016; Revised 28 January 2017; Accepted 7 February 2017
Advance online publication 9 March 2017



The processing of DNA (for transfection) and short interfering RNA (siRNA; for gene silencing), introduced into HeLa cells by triple-shell calcium phosphate nanoparticles, was followed by live-cell imaging. For comparison, the commercial liposomal transfection agent Lipofectamine was used. The cells were incubated with these delivery systems, carrying either enhanced green fluorescent protein (eGFP)-encoding DNA or siRNA against eGFP. In the latter case, HeLa cells that stably expressed eGFP were used. The expression of eGFP started after 5h in the case of nanoparticles and after 4h in the case of Lipofectamine. The corresponding times for gene silencing were 5h (nanoparticles) and immediately after incubation (Lipofectamine). The expression of eGFP was notably enhanced 2–3h after cell division (mitosis). In general, the transfection and gene silencing efficiencies of the nanoparticles were lower than those of Lipofectamime, even at a substantially higher dose (factor 20) of nucleic acids. However, the cytotoxicity of the nanoparticles was lower than that of Lipofectamine, making them suitable vectors for in vivo application.