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Nucleic Acids Res. 2019 Feb 20;47(3):1082-1096. doi: 10.1093/nar/gky1239.

Diverse lipid conjugates for functional extra-hepatic siRNA delivery in vivo.

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RNA Therapeutics Institute, University of Massachusetts Medical School, Worcester, MA 01604, USA.
Program in Molecular Medicine, University of Massachusetts Medical School, Worcester, MA 01604, USA.


Small interfering RNA (siRNA)-based therapies are proving to be efficient for treating liver-associated disorders. However, extra-hepatic delivery remains challenging, limiting therapeutic siRNA utility. We synthesized a panel of fifteen lipid-conjugated siRNAs and systematically evaluated the impact of conjugate on siRNA tissue distribution and efficacy. Generally, conjugate hydrophobicity defines the degree of clearance and the liver-to-kidney distribution profile. In addition to primary clearance tissues, several conjugates achieve significant siRNA accumulation in muscle, lung, heart, adrenal glands and fat. Oligonucleotide distribution to extra-hepatic tissues with some conjugates was significantly higher than with cholesterol, a well studied conjugate, suggesting that altering conjugate structure can enhance extra-hepatic delivery. These conjugated siRNAs enable functional gene silencing in lung, muscle, fat, heart and adrenal gland. Required levels for productive silencing vary (5-200 μg/g) per tissue, suggesting that the chemical nature of conjugates impacts tissue-dependent cellular/intracellular trafficking mechanisms. The collection of conjugated siRNA described here enables functional gene modulation in vivo in several extra-hepatic tissues opening these tissues for gene expression modulation. A systemic evaluation of a panel of conjugated siRNA, as reported here, has not previously been investigated and shows that chemical engineering of lipid siRNAs is essential to advance the RNA therapeutic field.

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