PloS one

Effectiveness of Losartan-Loaded Hyaluronic Acid (HA) Micelles for the Reduction of Advanced Hepatic Fibrosis in C3H/HeN Mice Model.

PMID 26714035


Advanced hepatic fibrosis therapy using drug-delivering nanoparticles is a relatively unexplored area. Angiotensin type 1 (AT1) receptor blockers such as losartan can be delivered to hepatic stellate cells (HSC), blocking their activation and thereby reducing fibrosis progression in the liver. In our study, we analyzed the possibility of utilizing drug-loaded vehicles such as hyaluronic acid (HA) micelles carrying losartan to attenuate HSC activation. Losartan, which exhibits inherent lipophilicity, was loaded into the hydrophobic core of HA micelles with a 19.5% drug loading efficiency. An advanced liver fibrosis model was developed using C3H/HeN mice subjected to 20 weeks of prolonged TAA/ethanol weight-adapted treatment. The cytocompatibility and cell uptake profile of losartan-HA micelles were studied in murine fibroblast cells (NIH3T3), human hepatic stellate cells (hHSC) and FL83B cells (hepatocyte cell line). The ability of these nanoparticles to attenuate HSC activation was studied in activated HSC cells based on alpha smooth muscle actin (α-sma) expression. Mice treated with oral losartan or losartan-HA micelles were analyzed for serum enzyme levels (ALT/AST, CK and LDH) and collagen deposition (hydroxyproline levels) in the liver. The accumulation of HA micelles was observed in fibrotic livers, which suggests increased delivery of losartan compared to normal livers and specific uptake by HSC. Active reduction of α-sma was observed in hHSC and the liver sections of losartan-HA micelle-treated mice. The serum enzyme levels and collagen deposition of losartan-HA micelle-treated mice was reduced significantly compared to the oral losartan group. Losartan-HA micelles demonstrated significant attenuation of hepatic fibrosis via an HSC-targeting mechanism in our in vitro and in vivo studies. These nanoparticles can be considered as an alternative therapy for liver fibrosis.