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Pharm Res. 2004 Dec;21(12):2234-46.

Pharmacokinetics and biodistribution of novel aptamer compositions.

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  • 1Archemix Corp, Cambridge, Massachusetts 02139, USA.



Aptamers are highly selective nucleic acid-based drugs that are currently being developed for numerous therapeutic indications. Here, we determine plasma pharmacokinetics and tissue distribution in rat of several novel aptamer compositions, including fully 2'-O-methylated oligonucleotides and conjugates bearing high-molecular weight polyethylene glycol (PEG) polymers, cell-permeating peptides, and cholesterol.


Levels of aptamer conjugates in biological samples were quantified radiometrically and by a hybridization-based dual probe capture assay with enzyme-linked fluorescent readout. Intact aptamer in urine was detected by capillary gel electrophoresis and matrix-assisted laser desorption ionization time of flight mass spectrometry (MALDI-TOF).


Aptamer compositions examined exhibited a wide range of mean residence times in circulation (0.6-16 h) and significant variation in distribution levels among organs and tissues. Among the conjugates tested, in vivo properties of aptamers were altered most profoundly by conjugation with PEG groups. Complexation with a 20 kDa PEG polymer proved nearly as effective as a 40 kDa PEG polymer in preventing renal clearance of aptamers. Conjugation with 20 kDa PEG prolonged aptamer circulatory half-life, while reducing both the extent of aptamer distribution to the kidneys and the rate of urinary elimination. In contrast, the fully 2'-O-Me aptamer composition showed rapid clearance from circulation, and elimination with intact aptamer detectable in urine at 48 h post-administration.


We find that conjugation and chemical composition can alter fundamental aspects of aptamer residence in circulation and distribution to tissues. Though the primary effect of PEGylation was on aptamer clearance, the prolonged systemic exposure afforded by presence of the 20 kDa moiety appeared to facilitate distribution of aptamer to tissues, particularly those of highly perfused organs.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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