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Antisense Res Dev. 1995 Fall;5(3):175-83.

The uptake and distribution of phosphorothioate oligonucleotides into vascular smooth muscle cells in vitro and in rabbit arteries.

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  • 1Department of Experimental Pathology, Amgen Inc., Amgen Center, Thousand Oaks, CA 91320-1789, USA.


Oligonucleotides are a class of compounds with potential as therapeutics for a variety of clinical applications. Local delivery of oligonucleotides to the arterial wall is a challenging aspect of the development of these therapeutics for restenosis, and herein we report experiments characterizing the uptake and distribution of phosphorothiate oligonucleotides into vascular smooth muscle cells in primary cultures and in rabbit arteries. Primary cultures of smooth muscle cells incubated with rhodamine-oligonucleotides showed uptake only into cytoplasmic vesicles. No nuclear or cytosolic localization was detected. In normal arteries there was no visible tissue or cellular uptake of oligonucleotides after intralumenal administration. However, in balloon-injured arteries there was significant oligonucleotide uptake into the tissue with apparent cytoplasmic delivery to the medial smooth muscle cells, as evinced by intense staining of their nuclei with labeled oligonucleotides. Measurement of FITC-oligonucleotide in artery extracts showed significantly greater uptake in injured, compared with normal arteries. Light and electron microscopic studies demonstrated a correlation between the degree of damage and the amount of uptake. These results demonstrate that oligonucleotides penetrate easily into the arterial wall of balloon-injured arteries and accumulate in the medial smooth muscle cells-the target cells for antirestenosis therapeutics following balloon angioplasty.

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