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Biomaterials. 2013 Jul;34(20):4839-48. doi: 10.1016/j.biomaterials.2013.03.021. Epub 2013 Apr 1.

The efficacy of nuclease-resistant Chol-siRNA in primary breast tumors following complexation with PLL-PEG(5K).

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  • 1Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences, College of Pharmacy, University of Nebraska Medical Center, 986025 Nebraska Medical Center, Omaha, NE 68198-6025, USA.


Modifying the sense strand of nuclease-resistant siRNA with 3'-cholesterol (Chol-*siRNA) increases mRNA suppression after i.v. administration but with relatively low efficacy. We previously found evidence in vitro that suggests complexation of Chol-siRNA with PLL-PEG(5K), a block copolymer of poly-l-lysine and 5 kDa polyethylene glycol, may increase the efficacy of Chol-siRNA in vivo in a PLL block length-dependent manner. In this study, the extent that polyplexes of PLL10-PEG(5K), PLL30-PEG(5K), and PLL50-PEG(5K) protect complexed Chol-siRNA in high concentrations of murine serum and affect the activity of Chol-*siRNA in murine 4T1 breast tumor epithelial cells in vitro and in primary orthotopic tumors of 4T1 was compared. PLL-PEG(5K) required 3'-Chol to protect full-length siRNA from nuclease degradation in 90% (v/v) murine serum and protection was increased by increasing PLL block length and nuclease resistance of Chol-siRNA. Polyplexes of Chol-*siLuc suppressed stably expressed luciferase in 4T1-Luc cells to different levels in vitro where PLL30 > PLL50 > PLL10. In contrast, only polyplexes of Chol-*siLuc and PLL30-PEG(5K) or PLL50-PEG(5K) suppressed high levels of luciferase in primary orthotopic tumors of 4T1-Luc after i.v. administration, whereas polyplexes of Chol-*siLuc and PLL10-PEG(5K), inactive Chol-*siCtrl polyplexes of PLL-PEG(5K), or Chol-*siLuc alone had no detectable activity. As a whole, these results indicate that polyplexes of PLL-PEG(5K) increase the efficacy of nuclease-resistant Chol-siRNA in primary breast tumors after i.v. administration in a PLL block length-dependent manner. Thus, complexation of Chol-siRNA with PLL-PEG(5K) may be a promising approach to increase the efficacy of Chol-siRNA in a wide range of primary tumors, metastases, and other tissues but likely requires a PLL block length that balances polymer-related adverse effects, Chol-siRNA bioavailability, and subsequent activity in the target cell.

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