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Nucleic Acid Ther. 2017 Dec;27(6):323-334. doi: 10.1089/nat.2017.0690. Epub 2017 Oct 12.

Pharmacokinetic Profiling of Conjugated Therapeutic Oligonucleotides: A High-Throughput Method Based Upon Serial Blood Microsampling Coupled to Peptide Nucleic Acid Hybridization Assay.

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1 RNA Therapeutics Institute, University of Massachusetts Medical School , Worcester, Massachusetts.
2 Department of Molecular Medicine, University of Massachusetts Medical School , Worcester, Massachusetts.


Therapeutic oligonucleotides, such as small interfering RNAs (siRNAs), hold great promise for the treatment of incurable genetically defined disorders by targeting cognate toxic gene products for degradation. To achieve meaningful tissue distribution and efficacy in vivo, siRNAs must be conjugated or formulated. Clear understanding of the pharmacokinetic (PK)/pharmacodynamic behavior of these compounds is necessary to optimize and characterize the performance of therapeutic oligonucleotides in vivo. In this study, we describe a simple and reproducible methodology for the evaluation of in vivo blood/plasma PK profiles and tissue distribution of oligonucleotides. The method is based on serial blood microsampling from the saphenous vein, coupled to peptide nucleic acid hybridization assay for quantification of guide strands. Performed with minimal number of animals, this method allowed unequivocal detection and sensitive quantification without the need for amplification, or further modification of the oligonucleotides. Using this methodology, we compared plasma clearances and tissue distribution profiles of two different hydrophobically modified siRNAs (hsiRNAs). Notably, cholesterol-hsiRNA presented slow plasma clearances and mainly accumulated in the liver, whereas, phosphocholine-docosahexaenoic acid-hsiRNA was rapidly cleared from the plasma and preferably accumulated in the kidney. These data suggest that the PK/biodistribution profiles of modified hsiRNAs are determined by the chemical nature of the conjugate. Importantly, the method described in this study constitutes a simple platform to conduct pilot assessments of the basic clearance and tissue distribution profiles, which can be broadly applied for evaluation of new chemical variants of siRNAs and micro-RNAs.


RNA interference; biodistribution; pharmacokinetics; siRNA; therapeutic oligonucleotides

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