[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: In order to enhance the gene delivery efficiency and decrease cytotoxicity of polyplexes, copolymers consisting of branched polyethyleneimine (PEI) 25 kDa grafted with Pluronic (F127, F68, P105) were successfully synthesized using a simple two-step procedure. The copolymers were tested for cytotoxicity and DNA condensation and complexation properties. Their polyplexes with plasmid DNA were characterized in terms of DNA size and surface charge and transfection efficiency. The complex sizes were below 300 nm, which implicated their potential for intracellular delivery. The Pluronic-g-PEI exhibited better condensation and complexation properties than PEI 25 kDa. The cytotoxicity of PEI was strongly reduced after copolymerization. The Pluronic-g-PEI showed lower cytotoxicity in three different cell lines (Hela, MCF-7, and HepG2) than PEI 25 kDa. pGL3-lus was used as a reporter gene, and the transfection efficiency was in vitro measured in HeLa cells. Compared with unmodified PEI 25 kDa Pluronic-g-PEI showed much higher transfection efficiency. These results demonstrate that polyplexes prepared using a combined strategy of surface crosslinking and grafted with Pluronic seem to provide promising properties as stable, high transfection efficiency vectors.