Using dendrimers in cancer therapy as nonviral vectors for gene delivery seems promising. The biological performance of a dendrimer-based gene delivery system depends heavily on its molecular architecture. The transfection activity of dendrimers is significantly improved by processes activated in the heat degradation treatment of solvolysis. However, very little is known about the molecular mechanisms that dendrimers produce in cancer cells. We studied the changes in global gene-expression profiles in human cervical cancer HeLa cells exposed to nonactivated and activated poly(amidoamine) (PAMAM) dendrimers, alone or in
complexes with plasmid DNA (dendriplexes). Real-time quantitative reverse transcriptasepolymerase chain reaction was used to confirm four regulated genes (PHF5A, ARNTL2, CHD4, and P2RX7) affected by activated dendrimers and dendriplexes. Activated and nonactivated dendrimers and dendriplexes alike induced multiple gene expression changes, some of which overlapped with their dendriplexes. Dendrimer activation improved transfection efficiency and induced additional gene expression changes in HeLa cells. Dendrimers and dendriplexes principally affect genes with the molecular functions of nucleic acid binding and transcription activity, metal-ion binding, enzyme activity, receptor activity, and protein binding. Our findings provide a deeper insight into the changes in gene expression patterns caused by the molecular structure of PAMAM dendrimers for gene-based cancer therapy.