For small interfering RNA (siRNA)-based cancer therapies, we report an actively-targeted and stabilized polyion complex micelle designed to improve tumor accumulation and cancer cell uptake of siRNA following systemic administration. Improvement in micelle stability was achieved using two stabilization mechanisms; covalent disulfide cross-linking and non-covalent hydrophobic interactions. The polymer component was designed to provide disulfide cross-linking and cancer cell-targeting cyclic RGD peptide ligands, while cholesterol-modified siRNA (Chol-siRNA) provided additional hydrophobic stabilization to the micelle structure. Dynamic light scattering confirmed formation of nano-sized disulfide cross-linked micelles (<50nm in diameter) with a narrow size distribution. Improved stability of Chol-siRNA-loaded micelles (Chol-siRNA micelles) was demonstrated by resistance to both the dilution in serum-containing medium and counter polyion exchange with dextran sulfate, compared to control micelles prepared with Chol-free siRNA (Chol-free micelles). Improved stability resulted in prolonged blood circulation time of Chol-siRNA micelles compared to Chol-free micelles. Furthermore, introduction of cRGD ligands onto Chol-siRNA micelles significantly facilitated accumulation of siRNA in a subcutaneous cervical cancer model following systemic administration. Ultimately, systemically administered cRGD/Chol-siRNA micelles exhibited significant gene silencing activity in the tumor, presumably due to their active targeting ability combined with the enhanced stability through both hydrophobic interactions of cholesterol and disulfide cross-linking. © 2014 Elsevier Ltd.
Oe, Y., Christie, R. J., Naito, M., Low, S. A., Fukushima, S., Toh, K., … Kataoka, K. (2014). Actively-targeted polyion complex micelles stabilized by cholesterol and disulfide cross-linking for systemic delivery of siRNA to solid tumors. Biomaterials, 35(27), 7887–7895. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.biomaterials.2014.05.041