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PLoS One. 2015 Sep 25;10(9):e0138870. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0138870. eCollection 2015.

Targeting Rapamycin to Podocytes Using a Vascular Cell Adhesion Molecule-1 (VCAM-1)-Harnessed SAINT-Based Lipid Carrier System.

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Department of Pathology & Medical Biology, Medical Biology Section, University Medical Center Groningen, University of Groningen, Groningen, the Netherlands.
Department of Pharmaceutics, Utrecht Institute for Pharmaceutical Sciences, Utrecht University, Utrecht, the Netherlands.


Together with mesangial cells, glomerular endothelial cells and the basement membrane, podocytes constitute the glomerular filtration barrier (GFB) of the kidney. Podocytes play a pivotal role in the progression of various kidney-related diseases such as glomerular sclerosis and glomerulonephritis that finally lead to chronic end-stage renal disease. During podocytopathies, the slit-diaphragm connecting the adjacent podocytes are detached leading to severe loss of proteins in the urine. The pathophysiology of podocytopathies makes podocytes a potential and challenging target for nanomedicine development, though there is a lack of known molecular targets for cell selective drug delivery. To identify VCAM-1 as a cell-surface receptor that is suitable for binding and internalization of nanomedicine carrier systems by podocytes, we investigated its expression in the immortalized podocyte cell lines AB8/13 and MPC-5, and in primary podocytes. Gene and protein expression analyses revealed that VCAM-1 expression is increased by podocytes upon TNFα-activation for up to 24 h. This was paralleled by anti-VCAM-1 antibody binding to the TNFα-activated cells, which can be employed as a ligand to facilitate the uptake of nanocarriers under inflammatory conditions. Hence, we next explored the possibilities of using VCAM-1 as a cell-surface receptor to deliver the potent immunosuppressant rapamycin to TNFα-activated podocytes using the lipid-based nanocarrier system Saint-O-Somes. Anti-VCAM-1-rapamycin-SAINT-O-Somes more effectively inhibited the cell migration of AB8/13 cells than free rapamycin and non-targeted rapamycin-SAINT-O-Somes indicating the potential of VCAM-1 targeted drug delivery to podocytes.

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