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Comparison of electrically mediated and liposome-complexed plasmid DNA delivery to the skin

Loree C Heller12, Mark J Jaroszeski13, Domenico Coppola4 and Richard Heller125*

Author Affiliations

1 Center for Molecular Delivery, University of South Florida, Tampa, FL, USA

2 Frank Reidy Research Center for Bioelectrics, Old Dominion University, Norfolk, VA, USA

3 Department of Chemical Engineering, University of South Florida, Tampa, FL, USA

4 Department of Oncologic Sciences, H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center and Research Institute, Tampa, FL, USA

5 Department of Molecular Medicine, University of South Florida, Tampa, FL, USA

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Genetic Vaccines and Therapy 2008, 6:16  doi:10.1186/1479-0556-6-16

Published: 4 December 2008



Electroporation is an established technique for enhancing plasmid delivery to many tissues in vivo, including the skin. We have previously demonstrated efficient delivery of plasmid DNA to the skin utilizing a custom-built four-plate electrode. The experiments described here further evaluate cutaneous plasmid delivery using in vivo electroporation. Plasmid expression levels are compared to those after liposome mediated delivery.


Enhanced electrically-mediated delivery, and less extensively, liposome complexed delivery, of a plasmid encoding the reporter luciferase was tested in rodent skin. Expression kinetics and tissue damage were explored as well as testing in a second rodent model.


Experiments confirm that electroporation alone is more effective in enhancing reporter gene expression than plasmid injection alone, plasmid conjugation with liposomes followed by injection, or than the combination of liposomes and electroporation. However, with two time courses of multiple electrically-mediated plasmid deliveries, neither the levels nor duration of transgene expression are significantly increased. Tissue damage may increase following a second treatment, no further damage is observed after a third treatment. When electroporation conditions utilized in a mouse model are tested in thicker rat skin, only higher field strengths or longer pulses were as effective in plasmid delivery.


Electroporation enhances reporter plasmid delivery to the skin to a greater extent than the liposome conjugation method tested. Multiple deliveries do not necessarily result in higher or longer term expression. In addition, some impact on tissue integrity with respect to surface damage is observed. Pulsing conditions should be optimized for the model and for the expression profile desired.