Access Type

Open Access Dissertation

Date of Award

January 2014

Degree Type


Degree Name



Biomedical Engineering

First Advisor

Kannan Rangaramnujam

Second Advisor

Howard Matthew


PAMAM dendrimers are a class of well-defined, hyperbranched polymeric nanocarriers that are being investigated for ocular drug and gene delivery. Their favorable properties such as small size, multivalency and water solubility can provide significant opportunities for many biologically unstable drugs and allows potentially favorable ocular biodistribution. This work exploits hydroxyl terminated dendrimers (G4-OH) as drug/gene delivery vehicles that can target retinal microglia and pigment epithelium via systemic delivery with improved efficacy at much lower concentrations without any side effects.

Two different drugs Triamcinolone acetonide (TA) and N-Acetyl Cysteine (NAC) conjugated to G4-OH dendrimers showed tailorable sustained release in physiological relevant solutions and were evaluated in-vitro and in-vivo. Dendrimer-TA conjugates enhanced the solubility of TA and were 100 fold more effective at lower concentrations than free TA in its anti-inflammatory activity in activated microglia and in suppressing VEGF production in hypoxic RPE cells. Dendrimers targeted activated microglia/macrophages and RPE and retained for a period of 21 days in I/R mice model. The relative retention of intravitreal and intravenous dendrimers was comparable, if a 30-fold intravenous dose is used; suggesting intravenous route targeting retinal diseases are possible with dendrimers. D-NAC when injected intravenously attenuated retinal and choroidal inflammation, significantly reduced (~73%) CNV growth at early stage of AMD in rat model of CNV. A combination therapy of D-NAC + D-TA significantly suppressed microglial activation and promoted CNV regression in late stages of AMD without causing side-effects.

G4-OH was modified with linker having minimal amine groups and incorporation of TA as a nuclear localization enhancer resulted in compact gene vectors with favorable safety profile and achieved high levels of transgene expression in hard to transfect human retinal pigment epithelial cells (hRPE). Prepared dendrimer-gene complexes were non-toxic and achieved significant cell uptake and safe delivery of gene in to the nucleus. Further, polyethylene glycol (PEG) surface coating enhanced colloidal stability in physiological relevant solutions without affecting its transfection efficacy.