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Mol Ther. 2010 May;18(5):993-1001. doi: 10.1038/mt.2010.27. Epub 2010 Mar 9.

Targeted delivery of siRNA to macrophages for anti-inflammatory treatment.

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  • 1Center of Excellence in Infectious Diseases, Paul L Foster School of Medicine, Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center, El Paso, Texas 79905, USA.


Inflammation mediated by tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-alpha) and the associated neuronal apoptosis characterizes a number of neurologic disorders. Macrophages and microglial cells are believed to be the major source of TNF-alpha in the central nervous system (CNS). Here, we show that suppression of TNF-alpha by targeted delivery of small interfering RNA (siRNA) to macrophage/microglial cells dramatically reduces lipopolysaccharide (LPS)-induced neuroinflammation and neuronal apoptosis in vivo. Because macrophage/microglia express the nicotinic acetylcholine receptor (AchR) on their surface, we used a short AchR-binding peptide derived from the rabies virus glycoprotein (RVG) as a targeting ligand. This peptide was fused to nona-D-arginine residues (RVG-9dR) to enable siRNA binding. RVG-9dR was able to deliver siRNA to induce gene silencing in macrophages and microglia cells from wild type, but not AchR-deficient mice, confirming targeting specificity. Treatment with anti-TNF-alpha siRNA complexed to RVG-9dR achieved efficient silencing of LPS-induced TNF-alpha production by primary macrophages and microglia cells in vitro. Moreover, intravenous injection with RVG-9dR-complexed siRNA in mice reduced the LPS-induced TNF-alpha levels in blood as well as in the brain, leading to a significant reduction in neuronal apoptosis. These results demonstrate that RVG-9dR provides a tool for siRNA delivery to macrophages and microglia and that suppression of TNF-alpha can potentially be used to suppress neuroinflammation in vivo.

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