In this review, the surface-mediated gene transfer system using calcium phosphate composite layers is described. Calcium phosphate ceramics are osteoconductive bioceramics used typically in orthopedic and dental applications. Additionally, calcium phosphate particles precipitated by a liquid-phase process have long been used as a safe and biocompatible transfection reagent in molecular biology. Recently, calcium phosphate composite layers immobilizing DNA were fabricated on the surfaces of base materials through a biomimetic process using supersaturated solutions. These composite layers possess useful characteristics of both osteoconductive bioceramics and transfection reagents; they thus provide a biocompatible surface to support cell adhesion and growth, and can stimulate the cell effectively via surface-mediated gene transfer. By modifying the fabrication conditions, physicochemical and biological properties of the composite layers can be varied. With such an approach, these composite layers can be designed to have improved affinity for cells and to exhibit increased gene transfer efficiency over that of conventional lipid transfection reagents. The composite layers with the increased gene transfer efficiency induced specific cell differentiation and tissue regeneration in vivo. These composite layers, given their good biocompatibility and the potential to control cell behavior on their surfaces, have great potential in tissue engineering applications.

This paper was originally published in Acta Biomaterialia (2012) 8, 2034-2046.

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