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Sci Rep. 2015 Oct 28;5:15810. doi: 10.1038/srep15810.

Messenger RNA-based therapeutics for the treatment of apoptosis-associated diseases.

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Laboratory of Clinical Biotechnology, Center for Disease Biology and Integrative Medicine, Graduate School of Medicine, The University of Tokyo, Tokyo, 113-0033, Japan.
Department of Bioengineering, Graduate School of Engineering, The University of Tokyo, Tokyo, 113-8656, Japan.
Department of Materials Engineering, Graduate School of Engineering, The University of Tokyo, Tokyo, 113-8656, Japan.


Gene therapy is a promising approach for treating diseases that are closely associated with excessive apoptosis, because the gene can effectively and sustainably introduce anti-apoptotic factors into cells. However, DNA delivery poses the risk of random genomic integration, leading to overexpression of the delivered gene and cancer development. Messenger RNA (mRNA) can evade integration events in target cells. We examined the use of mRNA-based therapeutics for introducing anti-apoptotic factors by using a mouse model of fulminant hepatitis. For introducing mRNA into the liver, a synthesised polymer-based carrier of polyplex nanomicelles was used for hydrodynamic intravenous injection. Using GFP as a reporter, we demonstrate that mRNA delivery induced efficient protein expression in almost 100% of liver cells, while plasmid DNA (pDNA) delivery provided a smaller percentage of GFP-positive cells. Analyses using Cy5-labelled mRNA and pDNA revealed that efficient expression by mRNA was attributed to a simple intracellular mechanism, without the need for nuclear entry. Consistent with this observation, Bcl-2 mRNA was more effective on reducing apoptosis in the liver of mice with fulminant hepatitis than Bcl-2 pDNA. Therefore, mRNA-based therapeutics combined with an effective delivery system such as polyplex nanomicelles is a promising treatment for intractable diseases associated with excessive apoptosis.

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