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Int J Nanomedicine. 2017 May 17;12:3767-3784. doi: 10.2147/IJN.S129324. eCollection 2017.

Methotrexate carried in lipid core nanoparticles reduces myocardial infarction size and improves cardiac function in rats.

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Laboratory of Metabolism and Lipids.
Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences.
Heart Failure Unit, Clinical Cardiology Division, Heart Institute (InCor), Medical School Hospital, University of São Paulo, São Paulo, Brazil.



Acute myocardial infarction (MI) is accompanied by myocardial inflammation, fibrosis, and ventricular remodeling that, when excessive or not properly regulated, may lead to heart failure. Previously, lipid core nanoparticles (LDE) used as carriers of the anti-inflammatory drug methotrexate (MTX) produced an 80-fold increase in the cell uptake of MTX. LDE-MTX treatment reduced vessel inflammation and atheromatous lesions induced in rabbits by cholesterol feeding. The aim of the study was to investigate the effects of LDE-MTX on rats with MI, compared with commercial MTX treatment.


Thirty-eight Wistar rats underwent left coronary artery ligation and were treated with LDE-MTX, or with MTX (1 mg/kg intraperitoneally, once/week, starting 24 hours after surgery) or with LDE without drug (MI-controls). A sham-surgery group (n=12) was also included. Echocardiography was performed 24 hours and 6 weeks after surgery. The animals were euthanized and their hearts were analyzed for morphometry, protein expression, and confocal microscopy.


LDE-MTX treatment achieved a 40% improvement in left ventricular (LV) systolic function and reduced cardiac dilation and LV mass, as shown by echocardiography. LDE-MTX reduced the infarction size, myocyte hypertrophy and necrosis, number of inflammatory cells, and myocardial fibrosis, as shown by morphometric analysis. LDE-MTX increased antioxidant enzymes; decreased apoptosis, macrophages, reactive oxygen species production; and tissue hypoxia in non-infarcted myocardium. LDE-MTX increased adenosine bioavailability in the LV by increasing adenosine receptors and modulating adenosine catabolic enzymes. LDE-MTX increased the expression of myocardial vascular endothelium growth factor (VEGF) associated with adenosine release; this correlated not only with an increase in angiogenesis, but also with other parameters improved by LDE-MTX, suggesting that VEGF increase played an important role in the beneficial effects of LDE-MTX. Overall effects of commercial MTX were minor, and did not improve LV function or infarction size. Both treatments did not induce any toxicity.


The remarkable improvement in heart function and reduction in infarction size achieved by LDE-MTX supports future clinical trials.


VEGF; adenosine; drug delivery; lipid particle; myocardial infarction

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