Molecular pharmaceutics

siRNA-chitosan complexes in poly(lactic-co-glycolic acid) nanoparticles for the silencing of aquaporin-1 in cancer cells.

PMID 23789777


A large number of studies document the strong expression of aquaporin-1 (AQP1) in tumor microvessels and correlate this aberrant expression with higher metastatic potential and aggressiveness of the malignancy. Although small animal experiments have shown that the modulation of AQP1 expression can halt angiogenesis and induce tumor regression, effective and safe strategies for the tissue specific inhibition of AQP1 are still missing. Here, small interference RNA-chitosan complexes encapsulated in poly(lactic-co-glycolic acid) (PLGA) nanoparticles (NPs) are proposed for the intracellular delivery of siRNA molecules against AQP1. These NPs are coated with poly(vinyl alcohol) (PVA), to improve stability under physiological conditions, and demonstrate a diameter of 160 nm. The partial neutralization of the negatively charged siRNA molecules with the cationic chitosan enhances the loading by 5-fold, as compared to that of the free siRNA molecules, and allows one to modulate the release kinetics in the pH-dependent manner. At pH = 7.4, mimicking the conditions found in the systemic circulation, only the 40% of siRNA is released at 24 h post incubation; whereas at pH = 5.0, recreating the cell endosomal environment, all siRNA molecules are released in about 3 h. These NPs show no cytotoxicity on HeLa cells up to 72 h of incubation. In the same cells, transfected to overexpress AQP1, a silencing efficiency of 70% is achieved at 24 h post treatment with siRNA-loaded NPs. Confocal microscopy analysis of NP uptake demonstrates that siRNA molecules accumulate perinuclearly and in the nucleus. Given the stability, preferential release behavior, and well-known biocompatibility properties of PLGA nanostructures, these siRNA-loaded NPs hold potential for the efficient and safe in vivo silencing of AQPs via systemic administration.