Anti-sense oligonucleotide uptake by keratinocytes in human skin grafts on athymic mice was examined using live confocal microscopy. Fluorescein isothiocyanate-labeled 15-mer C-5 propyne modified phosphorothioate anti-sense oligonucleotide (10-50 microM) was intradermally injected into normal human skin grafts on athymic mice, and the localization of the anti-sense oligonucleotide was assessed after 1-24 h postinjection. Anti-sense oligonucleotide was found to localize in the nuclei of basal and suprabasal keratinocytes after 1-2 h, and this localization was still observed after 24 h. This live in vivo observation of anti-sense oligonucleotide uptake in basal keratinocytes was confirmed using conventional fluorescence microscopy of fixed sections of skin grafts. Neither single nucleotides which were fluorescein isothiocyanate-labeled nor fluorescein isothiocyanate alone was able to penetrate into the nuclei of human skin graft keratinocytes after intradermal injection, and hence it is likely that the anti-sense oligonucleotide was not degraded prior to intracellular localization. Topical administration of anti-sense oligonucleotide and anti-sense oligonucleotide-liposome complexes resulted primarily in localization in the stratum corneum of human skin grafts. When grafts were tape stripped prior to anti-sense oligonucleotide administration, however, as little as 5 microM anti-sense oligonucleotide was required to observe nuclear anti-sense oligonucleotide accumulation. These results suggest that cutaneous anti-sense strategies can be tested using delivery via intradermal anti-sense oligonucleotide injection in human skin grafts on athymic mice, and that agents providing penetration of anti-sense oligonucleotide across the stratum corneum are likely to be required for successful topical therapies.
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