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Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci. 2012 May 14;53(6):2837-44. doi: 10.1167/iovs.11-9139.

Nanoparticle-mediated delivery of shRNA.VEGF-a plasmids regresses corneal neovascularization.

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  • 1John A. Moran Eye Center, Salt Lake City, UT 84132, USA.



To determine the efficacy of a plasmid containing a small hairpin RNA expression cassette (pSEC.shRNA) against VEGF-A-loaded poly(lactic co-glycolic acid) nanoparticles (PLGA NPs) in the sustained regression of murine corneal neovascularization.


PLGA nanoparticles were loaded with pSEC.shRNA.VEGF-A plasmids using the double emulsion-solvent evaporation method. KNV was induced in BALB/c mice by mechanical-alkali injury. Four weeks after induction of KNV, the mice were randomly divided to receive one of four treatments intrastromally: pSEC.shRNA.VEGF-A PLGA NPs (2 μg plasmid); naked pSEC.shRNA.VEGF-A plasmid only (2 μg plasmid); control blank PLGA NPs (equivalent dry weight of NPs); and vehicle. Two and five days after intervention, corneas were harvested to determine VEGF-A gene and protein expression using reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction and ELISA, respectively. Four weeks after intervention, corneas were photographed, mice sacrificed, and the corneal whole mounts were immunostained for CD31 (panendothelial cell marker). Immunofluorescence microscopy was performed and the neovascular area was quantitated.


VEGF-A mRNA (49.6 ± 12.4 vs. 82.9 ± 6.0%, P < 0.01) and protein (4.0 ± 5.2 vs. 20.0 ± 7.5 ρg VEGF-A/mg total protein, P < 0.05) expression were significantly reduced in pSEC.shRNA.VEGF-A PLGA NP-treated corneas as compared with control blank NP. The pSEC.shRNA.VEGF-A PLGA NP-treated corneas showed significant regression in the mean fractional areas of KNV (0.125 ± 0.042; 12.5%, P <0.01) compared with both naked plasmid only (0.283 ± 0.004; 28.3%) and control (blank NPs = 0.555 ± 0.072, 55.5%) at 4 weeks post-treatment.


The pSEC.shRNA.VEGF-A-loaded PLGA NPs are an effective, nonviral, nontoxic, and sustainable form of gene therapy for the regression of murine KNV.

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