Gemini surfactants have been successfully used as components of gene delivery systems. In the present work, a family of gemini surfactants, represented by the general structure [CmH2m+1(CH3)2N(+)(CH2)sN(+)(CH3)2CmH2m+1]2Br(-), or simply m-s-m, was used to prepare cationic gene carriers, aiming at their application in transfection studies. An extensive characterization of the gemini surfactant-based complexes, produced with and without the helper lipids cholesterol and DOPE, was carried out in order to correlate their physico-chemical properties with transfection efficiency. The most efficient complexes were those containing helper lipids, which, combining amphiphiles with propensity to form structures with different intrinsic curvatures, displayed a morphologically labile architecture, putatively implicated in the efficient DNA release upon complex interaction with membranes. While complexes lacking helper lipids were translocated directly across the lipid bilayer, complexes containing helper lipids were taken up by cells also by macropinocytosis. This study contributes to shed light on the relationship between important physico-chemical properties of surfactant-based DNA vectors and their efficiency to promote gene transfer, which may represent a step forward to the rational design of gene delivery systems.
MicroRNAs (miRNAs) have emerged as a class of small, endogenous, regulatory RNAs that exhibit the ability to epigenetically modulate the translation of mRNAs into proteins. This feature enables them to control cell phenotypes and, consequently, modify cell function in a disease context. The role of inflammatory miRNAs in Alzheimer's disease (AD) and their ability to modulate glia responses are now beginning to be explored. In this study, we propose to disclose the functional role of miR-155, one of the most well studied immune-related miRNAs in AD-associated neuroinflammatory events, employing the 3xTg AD animal model. A strong upregulation of miR-155 levels was observed in the brain of 12-month-old 3xTg AD animals. This event occurred simultaneously with an increase of microglia and astrocyte activation, and before the appearance of extracellular A? aggregates, suggesting that less complex A? species, such as A? oligomers may contribute to early neuroinflammation. In addition, we investigated the contribution of miR-155 and the c-Jun transcription factor to the molecular mechanisms that underlie A?-mediated activation of glial cells. Our results suggest early miR-155 and c-Jun upregulation in the 3xTg AD mice, as well as in A?-activated microglia and astrocytes, thus contributing to the production of inflammatory mediators such as IL-6 and IFN-?. This effect is associated with a miR-155-dependent decrease of suppressor of cytokine signaling 1. Furthermore, since c-Jun silencing decreases the levels of miR-155 in A?-activated microglia and astrocytes, we propose that miR-155 targeting can constitute an interesting and promising approach to control neuroinflammation in AD.
Gene therapy is considered a promising approach for the treatment of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). In this regard, the main goal of this work was to develop a specific and efficient gene delivery nanosystem to HCC based on 1-palmitoyl-2-oleoyl-sn-glycero-3-ethylphosphocholine:cholesterol cationic liposomes and asialofetuin (ASF), a specific ligand to the asialoglycoprotein receptor (ASGP-R) that is overexpressed in HCC. Our results show that association of ASF to lipoplexes promotes a substantial increase in their biological activity in HCC cells, not only in vitro, but also in an animal model. The transfection activity obtained with this novel nanosystem (ASF-lipoplexes) was much higher than that observed with a highly efficient commercial formulation. On the other hand, the presence of high concentrations of galactose substantially reduced the cell uptake and biological activity of the ASF-lipoplexes. These results, together with those obtained in the presence of inhibitors of endocytosis, show that the potentiation induced by the association of ASF to lipoplexes is due to its specific interaction with the ASGP-R. The physicochemical properties of the generated nanosystem also reinforce this observation. Overall, our results demonstrate for the first time that the novel ASF-lipoplexes present a noticeable ability to specifically and efficiently deliver genetic material into HCC cells.
Hepatitis B virus, hepatitis C virus and human immunodeficiency virus share a similar transmission pathway and are often diagnosed in the same patient. These patients tend to have a faster progression of hepatic fibrosis. This cross-sectional study describes the demographic features and clinical profile of human immunodeficiency virus/hepatitis co-infected patients in Paraná, Southern Brazil. A total of 93 human immunodeficiency virus-infected patients attending a tertiary care academic hospital in Southern Brazil were included. Clinical, demographic and epidemiological data were evaluated. Hepatitis B virus and/or hepatitis C virus positive serology was found in 6.6% of patients. The anti-hepatitis C virus serum test was positive in 85% (79/93) of patients, and the infection was confirmed in 72% of the cases. Eighteen patients (19%) were human immunodeficiency virus/hepatitis B virus positive (detectable HBsAg). Among co-infected patients, there was a high frequency of drug use, and investigations for the detection of co-infection were conducted late. A low number of patients were eligible for treatment and, although the response to antiretroviral therapy was good, there was a very poor response to hepatitis therapy. Our preliminary findings indicate the need for protocols aimed at systematic investigation of hepatitis B virus and hepatitis C virus in human immunodeficiency virus-infected patients, thus allowing for early detection and treatment of co-infected patients.
to verify the face validity, criterion-related validity and the reliability of two distinct forms of presentation of the instrument Measurement of Adherence to Treatment, one being for ascertaining the adherence to the use of oral antidiabetics and the other for adherence to the use of insulin, as well as to assess differences in adherence between these two modes of drug therapy.
Gene knockdown has emerged as an important tool for cancer gene therapy as well as for viral infections and dominantly inherited genetic disorders. The generation of suitable siRNA delivery systems poses some challenges, namely, to avoid nuclease degradation, to surpass the cytoplasmic membrane, and to release the nucleic acids into the cytosol. Aiming at evaluating the ability of thermoresponsive block copolymers formed by units of N-isopropylacrylamide and of (3-acrylamidopropyl)trimethylammonium chloride to efficiently deliver siRNAs, an extensive study was performed with four different copolymers using a human fibrosarcoma cell line as cell model. The silencing ability and cytotoxicity of the generated copolymer-based siRNA delivery systems were found to be dependent on the cloud point of the polymer, which corresponds to the transition temperature at which the aggregation or precipitation of the polymer molecules becomes thermodynamically more favorable than their solubilization. In the present study, a system capable of delivering siRNAs efficiently, specifically and without presenting relevant cytotoxicity, even in the presence of serum, was developed. Confocal fluorescence experiments showed that the ability of the generated systems to silence the target gene is related to some extent to nucleic acid internalization, being also dependent on polymer/siRNA dissociation at 37 °C. Thus, a delicate balance between nucleic acid internalization and intracellular release must be met in order to reach an ideal knockdown efficiency. The special features and potential for manipulation of the N-isopropylacrylamide-based copolymers make them suitable materials for the design and synthesis of new and promising siRNA delivery systems.
Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is the third most common cause of death related to cancer diseases worldwide. The current treatment options have many limitations and reduced success rates. In this regard, advances in gene therapy have shown promising results in novel therapeutic strategies. However, the success of gene therapy depends on the efficient and specific delivery of genetic material into target cells. In this regard, the main goal of this work was to develop a new lipid-based nanosystem formulation containing the lipid lactosyl-PE for specific and efficient gene delivery into HCC cells. The obtained results showed that incorporation of 15% of lactosyl-PE into liposomes induces a strong potentiation of lipoplex biological activity in HepG2 cells, not only in terms of transgene expression levels but also in terms of percentage of transfected cells. In the presence of galactose, which competes with lactosyl-PE for the binding to the asialoglycoprotein receptor (ASGP-R), a significant reduction in biological activity was observed, showing that the potentiation of transfection induced by the presence of lactosyl-PE could be due to its specific interaction with ASGP-R, which is overexpressed in HCC. In addition, it was found that the incorporation of lactosyl-PE in the nanosystems promotes an increase in their cell binding and uptake. Regarding the physicochemical properties of lipoplexes, the presence of lactosyl-PE resulted in a significant increase in DNA protection and in a substantial decrease in their mean diameter and zeta potential, conferring them suitable characteristics for in vivo application. Overall, the results obtained in this study suggest that the potentiation of the biological activity induced by the presence of lactosyl-PE is due to its specific binding to the ASGP-R, showing that this novel formulation could constitute a new gene delivery nanosystem for application in therapeutic strategies in HCC.
Pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) is a highly aggressive and mortal cancer, characterized by a set of known mutations, invasive features, and aberrant microRNA expression that have been associated with hallmark malignant properties of PDAC. The lack of effective PDAC treatment options prompted us to investigate whether microRNAs would constitute promising therapeutic targets toward the generation of a gene therapy approach with clinical significance for this disease. In this work, we show that the developed human serum albumin-1-palmitoyl-2-oleoyl-sn-glycero-3-ethylphosphocholine:cholesterol/anti-microRNA oligonucleotides (+/-) (4/1) nanosystem exhibits the ability to efficiently deliver anti-microRNA oligonucleotides targeting the overexpressed microRNAs miR-21, miR-221, miR-222, and miR-10 in PDCA cells, promoting an almost complete abolishment of microRNA expression. Silencing of these microRNAs resulted in a significant increase in the levels of their targets. Moreover, the combination of microRNA silencing, namely miR-21, with low amounts of the chemotherapeutic drug sunitinib resulted in a strong and synergistic antitumor effect, showing that this combined strategy could be of great importance for therapeutic application in PDAC.
The increasing knowledge on the genetic basis of disease has allowed the development of promising gene-targeted therapies that can be applied to numerous diseases. Such genetic-based approaches involve the use of nucleic acids as therapeutic agents, either for the insertion or repair and regulation of specific genes. However, the clinical application of these large and charged molecules remains highly dependent on the development of delivery systems capable of mediating efficient cellular uptake. Since the first observations, two decades ago, that some protein-derived domains can translocate across biological membranes, a wide group of peptides called cell-penetrating peptides (CPPs) have been considered one of the most promising tools to improve non-invasive cellular delivery of therapeutic molecules. The mechanistic basis of CPP and CPP conjugate cellular uptake remains controversial. However, biophysical studies on the interactions of CPPs with membrane models have contributed to unravel the mechanisms underlying CPP membrane translocation as well as to propose relationships between those mechanisms and CPP efficiency in mediating cargo delivery. In this review, representative examples of CPPs were gathered from the most recent literature in order to emphasize the contributions of chemists, biophysicists and cell biologists towards the rational design of increasingly more efficient delivery systems. In this context, the present review aims at giving an overview of some of the most significant CPP families and their biological applications as nucleic acid delivery systems.
The discovery of small RNA molecules with the capacity to regulate messenger RNA (mRNA) stability and translation (and consequently protein synthesis) has revealed an additional level of post-transcriptional gene control. MicroRNAs (miRNAs), an evolutionarily conserved class of small noncoding RNAs that regulate gene expression post-transcriptionally by base pairing to complementary sequences in the 3 untranslated regions of target mRNAs, are part of this modulatory RNA network playing a pivotal role in cell fate. Functional studies indicate that miRNAs are involved in the regulation of almost every biological pathway, while changes in miRNA expression are associated with several human pathologies, including cancer. By targeting oncogenes and tumor suppressors, miRNAs have the ability to modulate key cellular processes that define the cell phenotype, making them highly promising therapeutic targets. Over the last few years, miRNA-based anti-cancer therapeutic approaches have been exploited, either alone or in combination with standard targeted therapies, aiming at enhancing tumor cell killing and, ideally, promoting tumor regression and disease remission. Here we provide an overview on the involvement of miRNAs in cancer pathology, emphasizing the mechanisms of miRNA regulation. Strategies for modulating miRNA expression are presented and illustrated with representative examples of their application in a therapeutic context.
The aim of this study was to conduct a cost-utility study of adefovir, entecavir, interferon alpha, pegylated interferon alpha, lamivudine and tenofovir for chronic hepatitis B in the context of Brazilian Public Health Care System. A systematic review was carried out for efficacy and safety. Another review was performed to collect utility data and transition probabilities between health states. A Markov model was developed in a time horizon of 40 years with annual cycles for three groups of: HBeAg positive, HBeAg negative, and all patients. These strategies were compared to a fourth group that received no treatment. Discount rates of 5% were applied and sensitivity analyses were performed. Tenofovir offered the best cost-utility ratio for the three evaluated models: U$397, U$385 and U$384 (per QALY, respectively, for HBeAg positive, negative, and all patients). All other strategies were completely dominated because they showed higher costs and lower effectiveness than tenofovir. The sequence of cost-utility in the three models was: tenofovir, entecavir, lamivudine, adefovir, telbivudine, pegylated interferon alpha, and interferon alpha. In the sensitivity analysis, adefovir showed lower cost-utility than telbivudine in some situations. The study has some limitations, primarily related to the creation of scenarios and modeling. In this study, tenofovir presented the best cost-utility ratio. The results obtained in this study will be valuable in decision-making and in the review of the clinical protocol, mainly involving the allocation of available resources for health care.
The present work aimed at the development and application of a lipid-based nanocarrier for targeted delivery of nucleic acids to glioblastoma (GBM). For this purpose, chlorotoxin (CTX), a peptide reported to bind selectively to glioma cells while showing no affinity for non-neoplastic cells, was covalently coupled to liposomes encapsulating antisense oligonucleotides (asOs) or small interfering RNAs (siRNAs). The resulting targeted nanoparticles, designated CTX-coupled stable nucleic acid lipid particles (SNALPs), exhibited excellent features for in vivo application, namely small size (<180?nm) and neutral surface charge. Cellular association and internalization studies revealed that attachment of CTX onto the liposomal surface enhanced particle internalization into glioma cells, whereas no significant internalization was observed in noncancer cells. Moreover, nanoparticle-mediated miR-21 silencing in U87 human GBM and GL261 mouse glioma cells resulted in increased levels of the tumor suppressors PTEN and PDCD4, caspase 3/7 activation and decreased tumor cell proliferation. Preliminary in vivo studies revealed that CTX enhances particle internalization into established intracranial tumors. Overall, our results indicate that the developed targeted nanoparticles represent a valuable tool for targeted nucleic acid delivery to cancer cells. Combined with a drug-based therapy, nanoparticle-mediated miR-21 silencing constitutes a promising multimodal therapeutic approach towards GBM.Molecular Therapy-Nucleic Acids (2013) 2, e100; doi:10.1038/mtna.2013.30; published online 18 June 2013.
The successful application of gene therapy approaches is highly dependent on the efficient delivery of nucleic acids into target cells. In the present study, new peptide-based nonviral systems were developed to enhance plasmid DNA and siRNA delivery, aiming at generating appropriate gene delivery and gene silencing tools for preclinical and clinical application. For this purpose, a new cell-penetrating peptide derived from the wild-type S413-PV peptide was synthesized through the addition of a five-histidine tail to its N-terminus (H5-S413-PV), and its ability to mediate gene expression and gene silencing was evaluated and compared to that of the wild-type peptide. The histidine-enriched peptide, H5-S413-PV, proved to be generally more efficient and less toxic than the wild-type peptide in the delivery of plasmid DNA. In addition, complexes of H5-S413-PV with siRNAs, but not of S413-PV, were efficiently internalized by cells and presented high knockdown activity (63%). Interestingly, systems containing the S413-PV or the H5-S413-PV peptide exhibited superior biological activity when compared to those containing the reverse NLS or scrambled peptides, suggesting that both the cell-penetrating sequence and the NLS of the S413-PV peptide influence the competence of binary and ternary complexes to accomplish nucleic acid delivery. In order to unravel the cancer therapeutic potential of formulations with the histidine-enriched peptide, their efficiency to mediate silencing of the oncogenic protein survivin was evaluated. As opposed to complexes with the wild-type peptide, H5-S413-PV complexes showed the ability to promote a high survivin knockdown at the level of both protein (44%) and mRNA (73%), in HT1080 cells.
Cancer stem cells (CSCs) represent a minor population of self-renewing cancer cells that fuel tumor growth. As CSCs are generally spared by conventional treatments, this population is likely to be responsible for relapses that are observed in most cancers. In this work, we analyzed the preventive efficiency of a CSC-based vaccine on the development of liver metastasis from colon cancer in a syngeneic rat model. We isolated a CSC-enriched population from the rat PROb colon carcinoma cell line on the basis of the expression of the aldehyde dehydrogenase-1 (ALDH1) marker. Comparative analysis of vaccines containing lysates of PROb or ALDH(high) cells by mass spectrometry identifies four proteins specifically expressed in the CSC subpopulation. The expression of two of them (heat shock protein 27-kDa and aldose reductase) is already known to be associated with treatment resistance and poor prognosis in colon cancer. Preventive intraperitoneal administration of vaccines was then performed before the intrahepatic injection of PROb cancer cells. While no significant difference in tumor occurrence was observed between control and PROb-vaccinated groups, 50% of the CSC-based vaccinated animals became resistant to tumor development. In addition, CSC-based vaccination induced a 99.5% reduction in tumor volume compared to the control group. To our knowledge, this study constitutes the first work analyzing the potential of a CSC-based vaccination to prevent liver metastasis development. Our data demonstrate that a CSC-based vaccine reduces efficiently both tumor volume and occurrence in a rat colon carcinoma syngeneic model.
We have previously described the development of novel sterically stabilized F3-targeted pH-sensitive liposomes, which exhibited the ability to target both cancer and endothelial cells. Herein, the therapeutic potential of those liposomes was assessed upon encapsulation of a siRNA against a well-validated molecular target, PLK1. Treatment of prostate cancer (PC3) and angiogenic endothelial (HMEC-1) cells with F3-targeted liposomes containing anti-PLK1 siRNA resulted in a significant decrease in cell viability, which was mediated by a marked PLK1 silencing, both at the mRNA and protein levels. Furthermore, pre-treatment of PC3 cells with F3-targeted liposomes containing anti-PLK1 siRNA enabled a 3-fold reduction of paclitaxel IC50 and a 2.5-fold augment of the percentage of cancer cells in G2/mitosis arrest, which ultimately culminated in cell death. Overall, the F3-targeted nanocarrier containing an anti-PLK1 siRNA might constitute a valuable system for prostate cancer treatment, either applied in a single schedule or combined with conventional chemotherapy.
The design of novel F3-targeted liposomes with adequate features for systemic administration, to enable efficient intracellular delivery of siRNA toward both cancer and endothelial cells from angiogenic blood vessels.
Cationic block copolymers have been regarded as promising alternatives to the use of viral vectors for gene delivery. In this work, poly(N-isopropylacrylamide)n-block-poly((3-acrylamidopropyl)trimethylammonium chloride)m (PNIPAAMn-b-PAMPTMA(+)m) block copolymers with n=48 or 65 and m=6, 10 or 20 were synthesized and evaluated in terms of their potential for in vitro transfection of HeLa cells. These block copolymers collapse above a phase transition temperature, allowing the entrapment of the DNA molecules they are adsorbed to. The transfection efficiency increased with polymer concentration and was higher in the presence of a long PNIPAAM block and for a short charged block. In general, increasing the length of the charged block decreased the transfection efficiency. Additionally, polymer-DNA complexes (polyplexes) formed at lower polymer/DNA charge ratios caused lower cell toxicity levels. All polymers were shown to efficiently protect the DNA, even when they were present at low concentrations. At 37°C, the polyplexes mostly formed structures with size ranging from 100 to 500nm. The results also showed that the thermoresponsive contraction of PNIPAAM causes the charged block segments to be pressed out to the surface. The formation of compact structures seems to be a key factor in achieving high transfection efficiency.
To compare the efficacy of nucleoside or nucleotide analog monotherapy for the treatment of chronic hepatitis virus B (HBV) with adefovir dipivoxil, entecavir, lamivudine, telbivudine, and tenofovir disoproxil fumarate.
The lack of suitable vectors for efficient nucleic acid delivery into target cells represents a major hurdle for the successful application of gene therapy. Cationic liposomes exhibit attractive features for gene delivery, but their efficacy is still unsatisfactory, particularly for in vivo applications, which justifies the drive to further improve their performance by developing novel and efficient formulations. In the present study, we generated a new formulation of lipoplexes through electrostatic association of folate (FA) to 1-palmitoyl-2-oleoyl-sn-glycero-3-ethylphosphocholine (EPOPC):cholesterol (Chol) liposomes, prepared at different lipid/DNA charge ratios, and explored their potential to mediate gene delivery. The optimal FA-lipoplex formulation was evaluated for its efficacy to mediate antitumoral activity upon application of HSV-tk suicide gene therapy, both in vitro and in an animal model of oral cancer. Our results demonstrate that FA-EPOPC:Chol/DNA lipoplexes were able to promote a great enhancement of transfection and high in vitro antitumoral activity compared to plain lipoplexes in two different cancer cell lines. Most importantly, a considerable reduction of tumor growth was achieved with the developed FA-lipoplexes as compared to that observed for control FA-lipoplexes or plain lipoplexes. Overall, our study shows that FA-EPOPC:Chol/DNA lipoplexes constitute a promising system for the successful application of suicide gene therapy aiming at treating solid tumors.
The present work aims to gain insights into the role of peptide-lipid interactions in the mechanisms of cellular internalization and endosomal escape of the S4(13)-PV cell-penetrating peptide, which has been successfully used in our laboratory as a nucleic acid delivery system. A S4(13)-PV analogue, S4(13)-PVscr, displaying a scrambled amino acid sequence, deficient cell internalization and drug delivery inability, was used in this study for comparative purposes. Differential scanning calorimetry, fluorescence polarization and X-ray diffraction at small and wide angles techniques showed that both peptides interacted with anionic membranes composed of phosphatidylglycerol or a mixture of this lipid with phosphatidylethanolamine, increasing the lipid order, shifting the phase transition to higher temperatures and raising the correlation length between the bilayers. However, S4(13)-PVscr, in contrast to the wild-type peptide, did not promote lipid domain segregation and induced the formation of an inverted hexagonal lipid phase instead of a cubic phase in the lipid systems assayed. Electron microscopy showed that, as opposed to S4(13)-PVscr, the wild-type peptide induced the formation of a non-lamellar organization in membranes of HeLa cells. We concluded that lateral phase separation and destabilization of membrane lamellar structure without compromising membrane integrity are on the basis of the lipid-driven and receptor-independent mechanism of cell entry of S4(13)-PV peptide. Overall, our results can contribute to a better understanding of the role of peptide-lipid interactions in the mechanisms of cell-penetrating peptide membrane translocation, helping in the future design of more efficient cell-penetrating peptide-based drug delivery systems.
Limiting tumor invasion to the surrounding healthy tissues has proven to be clinically relevant for anticancer treatment options. We have demonstrated that, within a solid tumor, it is possible to achieve such a goal with the same nanoparticle by intracellular and triggered targeted drug delivery to more than one cell population. We have identified the nucleolin receptor in endothelial and cancer cells in tissue samples from breast cancer patients, which enabled the design of a F3-peptide-targeted sterically stabilized pH-sensitive liposome. The clinical potential of such strategy was demonstrated by the successful specific cellular association by breast cancer cells harvested from tumors of patients submitted to mastectomy. In vitro, the nanoparticle targeted the nucleolin receptor on a cell and ligand-specific manner and improved cytotoxicity of doxorubicin (used as a model drug) towards breast cancer and endothelial cells by 177- and 162-fold, respectively, relative to the commercially available non-targeted non-pH-sensitive liposomes. Moreover, active accumulation of F3-targeted pH-sensitive liposomes into human orthotopic tumors, implanted in the mammary fat pad of nude mice, was registered for a time point as short as 4 h, reaching 48% of the injected dose/g of tissue. Twenty-four hours post-injection the accumulation of the dual-targeted pH-sensitive nanoparticle in the tumor tissue was 33-fold higher than the non-targeted non-pH-sensitive counterpart. In mice treated with the developed targeted nanoparticle significant decrease of the tumor viable rim area and microvascular density, as well as limited invasion to surrounding healthy tissues were observed (as opposed to other tested controls), which may increase the probability of tumors falling in the category of "negative margins" with reduced risk of relapse.
Photodynamic therapy (PDT) is a minimally invasive approach, in which a photosensitizer compound is activated by exposure to light. The activation of the sensitizer drug results in several chemical reactions, such as the production of reactive oxygen species and other reactive molecules, which presence in the biological site leads to the damage of target cells. Although PDT has been primarily developed to combat cancerous lesions, this therapy can be employed for the treatment of several conditions, including infectious diseases. A wide range of microorganisms, including Gram-positive and Gram-negative bacteria, viruses, protozoa, and fungi, have demonstrated susceptibility to antimicrobial PDT. This treatment might consist in an alternative for the management of fungal infections. Antifungal photodynamic therapy has been successfully employed against Candida species, dermatophytes, and Aspergillus niger. Chromoblastomycosis is an infection that involves skin and subcutaneous tissues caused by the traumatic inoculation of dematiaceous fungi species, being that the most prevalent are Fonsecaea pedrosoi and Claphialophora carrionii. In the present work, the clinical applications of PDT for the treatment of chromoblastomycosis are evaluated. We have employed methylene blue as photosensitizer and a LED (Light Emitting Diode) device as light source. The results of this treatment are positive, denoting the efficacy of PDT against chromoblastomycosis. Considering that great part of the published works are focused on in vitro trials, these clinical tests can be considered a relevant source of information about antifungal PDT, since its results have demonstrated to be promising. The perspectives of this kind of treatment are analyzed in agreement with the recent literature involving antifungal PDT.
Hepatitis C virus (HCV) has become a major public health issue and is prevalent in most countries. We examined several MASP2 functional polymorphisms in 104 Brazilian patients with moderate and severe chronic hepatitis C using the primers set to amplify the region encoding the first domain (CUB1), a critical region for the formation of functional mannan-binding lectin (MBL)/MBL-associated serine proteases (MASP)-2 complexes, and the fifth domain (CCP2), which is essential for C4 cleavage of the MASP2 gene. We identified five single nucleotide polymorphisms in patients and controls: p. R99Q, p. D120G, p.P126L, p.D371Y, and p.V377A. Our results show that the p.D371Y variant (c.1111 G > T) is associated with susceptibility to HCV infection (p = 0.003, odds ratio = 6.33, 95% confidence interval = 1.85-21.70). Considered as a dominant function for the T allele, this variant is associated with high plasma levels of the MASP-2 in hepatitis C patients (p < 0.001). However, further functional investigations are necessary to understand the degree of involvement between MASP2 and the HCV susceptibility.
Effects of the addition of a cationic amino acid-based synthetic amphiphile, arginine N-lauroyl amide dihydrochloride (ALA), to a lipid-based transfection formulation have been investigated. It is shown that the inclusion of ALA results in a substantial enhancement of the transfection capability of lipoplexes prepared with liposomes of 1-palmitoyl-2-oleoyl-sn-glycero-3-ethylphosphocholine and cholesterol, which themselves mediate highly efficient transfection. A possible explanation for the increased biological activity is that ALA adsorbed to the surface of the DNA-lipid complexes is involved in triggering internalization. However, in order to identify possible additional factors underlying the enhanced transfection efficiency, the physical properties of formulations with and without ALA were characterized using cryo-transmission electron microscopy, dynamic light scattering, and an ethidium bromide intercalation assay. ALA seems to have limited influence on the initial internal structure of the complexes and the protection of DNA, but its presence is found to decrease the average effective size of the dispersed particles; this change in size may be important in improving the biological activity. Furthermore, ALA can act to influence the transfection efficiency of the formulation by promoting the release of DNA following internalization in the transfected cells.
Chronic myeloid leukemia (CML) is triggered by the BCR-ABL oncogene. Imatinib is the first-line treatment of CML; however imatinib resistance and intolerance have been detected in many patients. Therefore, new therapeutic approaches are required. The present work aimed at the development and application of transferrin receptor (TrfR) targeted liposomes co-encapsulating anti-BCR-ABL siRNA and imatinib at different molar ratios. The encapsulation yields and drug loading of each molecule was evaluated. Anti-leukemia activity of the developed formulations co-encapsulating siRNA and imatinib and of the combination of Trf-liposomes carrying siRNA and free imatinib under two different treatment schedules of pre-sensitization was assessed. The results obtained demonstrate that the presence of imatinib significantly decreases the encapsulation yields of siRNA, whereas imatinib encapsulation yields are increased by the presence of siRNA. Cytotoxicity assays demonstrate that the formulations co-encapsulating siRNA and imatinib promote a 3.84-fold reduction on the imatinib IC(50) (from 3.49 to 0.91?µM), whereas a 8.71-fold reduction was observed for the pre-sensitization protocols (from 42.7 to 4.9 nM). It was also observed that the formulations with higher siRNA to imatinib molar ratios promote higher cell toxicity. Thus, the present work describes a novel triple targeting strategy with one single system: cellular targeting (through the targeting ligand, transferrin) and molecular targeting at the BCR-ABL mRNA and Bcr-Abl protein level.
The success of gene therapy depends on the efficient delivery of therapeutic genes into target cells in vitro and in vivo. Non-viral vectors, such as cationic liposome-DNA complexes (lipoplexes), have been used for numerous gene delivery applications, although their efficacy is still limited, particularly when compared to that of viral vectors. In this work, we assessed the efficacy of a new gene delivery system generated by non-covalent association of folate to lipoplexes (FA-associated lipoplexes) in two different cancer cell lines (SCC-VII and TSA cells). Association of FA with liposomes composed of DOTAP and cholesterol, and subsequent complexation with DNA greatly increased transfection efficiency above that obtained with plain lipoplexes in both cell lines. The addition of 40?g of FA to lipoplexes was optimal for transfection and allowed to overcome the inhibitory effect induced by the presence of serum. Notably, the biological activity of the FA-associated complexes was even significantly improved under these conditions. Transfection activity mediated by FA-associated lipoplexes was compared with that by FA-conjugated lipoplexes, and the results showed that electrostatic association of FA to the lipoplexes led to considerably higher levels of biological activity than that involving covalent coupling of FA. Moreover, FA-associated lipoplexes confer greater DNA protection than FA-conjugated lipoplexes. To our knowledge, this is the first study reporting the characterization and application of FA-associated lipoplexes in gene delivery and showing their greater efficacy than that of FA-conjugated lipoplexes. Overall, the results obtained in the present work constitute a strong indication that the developed FA-associated lipoplexes are promising candidates for in vivo gene delivery.
Cationic liposomes have been proposed as biocompatible gene delivery vectors, able to overcome the barriers imposed by cell membranes. Besides lipids, other surfactant molecules have been successfully used in the composition of gene carriers. In the present work, we used a Gemini surfactant, represented by the general structure [C(14)H(29)(CH(3))(2)N(+)(CH(2))(2)N(+)(CH(3))(2)C(14)H(29)]2Br(-) and herein designated 14-2-14, to prepare cationic gene carriers, both as the sole component and in combination with neutral helper lipids, cholesterol and DOPE. The effectiveness of three Gemini-based formulations, namely neat 14-2-14, 14-2-14:Chol (1:1 molar ratio) and 14-2-14:Chol:DOPE (2:1:1 molar ratio), to mediate gene delivery was evaluated in DNA mixtures of +/- charge ratios ranging from 1/1 to 12/1. After ruling out cytotoxicity as responsible for the differences observed in the transfection competence, structural and physical properties of the vector were investigated, using several techniques. The size and surface charge density (zeta potential) of surfactant-based structures were determined by conventional techniques and the thermotropic behaviour of aqueous dispersions of surfactant/lipid/DNA formulations was monitored by fluorescence polarization of DPH and DPH-PA probes. The capacity of lipoplexes to interact with membrane-mimicking lipid bilayers was evaluated, using the PicoGreen assay and a FRET technique. Our data indicate inefficiency of the neat 14-2-14 formulation for gene delivery, which could result from the large dimensions of the particles and/or from its relative incompetence to release DNA upon interaction with anionic lipids. The addition of cholesterol or cholesterol and DOPE conferred to Gemini-based gene carrier transfection activity at specific ranges of +/- charge ratios. Fluorescence polarization data suggest that an order parameter within a specific range was apparently needed for complexes to display maximal transfection efficiency. The transfection-competent formulations showed to be efficiently destabilized by interaction with different anionic and zwitterionic bilayers, including those containing PS and cardiolipin. These data are discussed in terms of the potential of these formulations to address different intracellular targets.
Hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection is a worldwide public health problem. Vaccination is the most efficient way to prevent hepatitis B. Despite the success of the currently available vaccine, there is a clear need for the development of new generation of HBV vaccines. Needle-free immunization is an attractive approach for mass immunization campaigns, since avoiding the use of needles reduces the risk of needle-borne diseases and prevents needle-stick injuries and pain, thus augmenting patient compliance and eliminating the need for trained medical personnel. Moreover, this kind of immunization was shown to induce good systemic as well as mucosal immunological responses, which is important for the creation of both a prophylactic and therapeutic vaccine. In order to produce a better, safer, more efficient and more suitable vaccine, adjuvants have been used. In this article, several adjuvants tested over the years for their potential to help create a needle-free vaccine against HBV are reviewed.
Situations of vulnerability of the environment in which a child and their family are inserted may be translated into life and development conditions. The objective of this study is to know how families perceive the situations of vulnerability and their components, related to the ecological environment, experienced by children who face chronic diseases and are hospitalized in a School Hospital in Porto Alegre, Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil. This is a quantitative research from the perspective of a descriptive exploratory study. Data was collected from nine participants. Dynamic activities of creativity and sensibility were used and analyzed according to the Content Analysis referential. Three categories of analysis emerged; the familiar microsystem is here explored as a construct of the individual component of vulnerability. The search for an intersection demonstrates that an individual component of vulnerability reflects on the microsystem constitution, reinforcing the importance of envisioning the individual as a construct and a constructor of the environment in which their existence takes place.
Vulnerability factors that affect the environment where children and their families are can be translated as inadequate life conditions and development. This study aimed to understand nurses perceptions of the influences of social and economic vulnerabilities upon the care given to children and their families within the environment of Pediatrics Admittance Units in a University Hospital from Porto Alegre, Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil. This is a qualitative research with an exploratory and descriptive approach. The collection of information was performed with nine participants through individual semi-structured interviews, examined through Content Analysis technique. Three analytical categories have emerged. The one referring to the comprehension of the social and economic vulnerability concept was explored in this work. Results showed that whenever conditions of vulnerability are correctly identified the nursing professional has conditions of establishing actions that favor the healthy growth and development of the sick child and his or her family.
Machado-Joseph disease or spinocerebellar ataxia type 3 (MJD/SCA3) is a fatal, autosomal dominant disorder caused by a cytosine-adenine-guanine expansion in the coding region of the MJD1 gene. RNA interference has potential as a therapeutic approach but raises the issue of the role of wild-type ataxin-3 (WT ATX3) in MJD and of whether the expression of the wild-type protein must be maintained. To address this issue, we both overexpressed and silenced WT ATX3 in a rat model of MJD. We showed that (i) overexpression of WT ATX3 did not protect against MJD pathology, (ii) knockdown of WT ATX3 did not aggravate MJD pathology and that (iii) non-allele-specific silencing of ataxin-3 strongly reduced neuropathology in a rat model of MJD. Our findings indicate that therapeutic strategies involving non-allele-specific silencing to treat MJD patients may be safe and effective.
Despite increasing interest in cell-penetrating peptides (CPPs) as carriers for drugs and in gene therapy, the current understanding of their exact internalization mechanism is still far from complete. The cellular translocation of CPPs and their payloads has been mostly described by fluorescence- and activity-based methods, leaving the more detailed characterization at the ultrastructural level almost out of attention. Herein, we used transmission electron microscopy to characterize the membrane interaction and internalization of a cell-penetrating peptide S4(13)-PV. We demonstrate that S4(13)-PV peptide forms spherical nanoparticle-like regular structures upon association with cell surface glycosaminoglycans on the plasma membrane. Insertion of S4(13)-PV particles into plasma membrane induces disturbances and leads to the vesicular uptake of peptides by cells. We propose that for efficient cellular translocation S4(13)-PV peptides have to assemble into particles of specific size and shape. The spherical peptide particles are not dissociated in intracellular vesicles but often retain their organization and remain associated with the membrane of vesicles, destabilizing them and promoting the escape of peptides into cytosol. Lowering the temperature and inhibition of dynamins activity reduce the internalization of S4(13)-PV peptides, but do not block it completely. Our results provide an ultrastructural insight into the interaction mode of CPPs with the plasma membrane and the distribution in cells, which might help to better understand how CPPs cross the biological membranes and gain access into cells.
rBbKI and rBbCI, plant recombinant inhibitors from Bauhinia bauhinioides, and BpuTI from Bauhinia purpurea seeds distinctly and specifically block proteolytic enzymes. The secondary structures of those inhibitors were compared and their interactions with phospholipid vesicles were evaluated by the release of calcein and by intrinsic fluorescence of tryptophan residues. The results show that rBbKI, rBbCI and BpuTI are able to interact with phospholipd vesicles and induce membrane permeabilization in a concentration- and pH-dependent manner. The leakage was rapid and extensive at pH 4.5, but at physiological pH, no calcein release was observed. These results may suggest that upon inflammation or microorganism invasion accompanied by lowering of pH, appropriate conditions may occur for the inhibitors to interact with cell membrane and act on specific proteolytic enzyme.
Modulation of pre-mRNA splicing by steric-block oligonucleotides constitutes a promising strategy for the treatment of many diseases, but requires efficient delivery to cell nuclei. In the present study, we evaluated the efficacy of a non-covalent strategy that combines a cell penetrating peptide with a lipoplex-based formulation to mediate the delivery of splice-switching oligonucleotides. The splice correcting ability of these new formulations was assessed using splice-switching oligonucleotides targeted towards the mutated splicing site of human beta-globin pre-mRNA in the HeLa pLuc/705 splice correction model. Importantly, the optimal splice correcting activity was exhibited by the formulation containing both lipid and peptide components, the order of component addition in these formulations being crucial for their efficacy. Our results demonstrate that the inclusion of cationic liposomes in the formulation provides the ability to improve release from endocytic vesicles, a barrier that severely limits the efficiency of oligonucleotide delivery by cell penetrating peptides. On the other hand, cell penetrating peptides potentiate the cellular uptake and delivery of the oligonucleotides by the lipoplexes. Moreover, when combining cell penetrating peptides with the lipoplex formulations, a significant reduction in the amount of required cationic lipid could be achieved, while maintaining or even enhancing biological activity.
This study focus on describing the opinion of the parents of children belonging to the "For-Baby Program", about the educational activities in health performed by the nurses in a nursing consultation at a Health Basic Unit of Porto Alegre, Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil. This program develops vigilant actions on childrens health in their first year of life. It is about a qualitative descriptive exploratory research, carried out with fifteen individuals, by individual semi-structured interviews. The information was analyzed according to the technique of Content Analysis. The perception of the families on the activities of the nurses was presented in two categories: establishment of a helping relationship with the users, and orientations that collaborate with the development of the children. In the opinion of the families, the activities of the nurses were performed by a qualified professional which actually satisfies the premises of health promotion.
RNA interference provides a powerful technology for silencing any single protein within a target cell. Therapeutic applications of small interfering RNAs (siRNAs), however, require vehicles for stable and efficient delivery of these nucleic acid molecules, both in vitro and in vivo. Targeted lipoplexes have been used as a promising system to mediate siRNA delivery and to achieve gene silencing. Electrostatic association of transferrin (Tf) to cationic liposomes enhances the transfection of siRNA. We describe the methods used for the preparation of Tf-lipoplexes and evaluation of their biocompatibility. Approaches to assess the complexation of siRNAs, the ability of Tf-lipoplexes to mediate siRNA protection, and intracellular delivery, as well as to achieve both mRNA and protein knockdown, are also described. We illustrate the efficiency of Tf-lipoplexes in mediating the knockdown of both green fluorescent protein (GFP) and luciferase in cell lines stably expressing these reporter genes.
Anticancer systemic gene silencing therapy has been so far limited by the inexistence of adequate carrier systems that ultimately provide an efficient intracellular delivery into target tumor cells. In this respect, one promising strategy involves the covalent attachment of internalizing-targeting ligands at the extremity of PEG chains grafted onto liposomes. Therefore, the present work aims at designing targeted liposomes containing nucleic acids, with small size, high encapsulation efficiency and able to be actively internalized by SCLC cells, using a hexapeptide (antagonist G) as a targeting ligand. For this purpose, the effect of the liposomal preparation method, loading material (ODN versus siRNA) and peptide-coupling procedure (direct coupling versus post-insertion) on each of the above-mentioned parameters was assessed. Post-insertion of DSPE-PEG-antagonist G conjugates into preformed liposomes herein named as stabilized lipid particles, resulted in targeted vesicles with a mean size of about 130 nm, encapsulation efficiency close to 100%, and a loading capacity of approximately 5 nmol siRNA/mumol of total lipid. In addition, the developed targeted vesicles showed increased internalization in SCLC cells, as well as in other tumor cells and HMEC-1 microvascular endothelial cells. The improved cellular association, however, did not correlate with enhanced downregulation of the target protein (Bcl-2) in SCLC cells. These results indicate that additional improvements need to be performed in the future, namely by ameliorating the access of the nucleic acids to the cytoplasm of the tumor cells following receptor-mediated endocytosis.
The combination of polyethylenimine (PEI), as a plasmid DNA pre-condensing agent, and cationic lipids has been reported to result in a synergistic effect on transfection. Recently, we have explored this effect by associating low-molecular weight PEIs with transferrin-associated lipoplexes using different cationic liposome formulations. The resulting lipopolyplexes that have shown to be the most efficient in mediating transfection were those prepared from cationic liposomes composed of DOTAP:Chol (associated or not with transferrin) and from a pH-sensitive liposome formulation (DOTAP:Chol:DOPE:CHEMS). In the present work, the physicochemical properties of these lipopolyplexes were studied aiming at establishing a correlation with their transfection efficiency. For this purpose, the lipopolyplexes were characterized in terms of their morphology by performing ultrastructural studies using cryo-TEM microscopy, investigating inner DNA structure using circular dichroism and characterizing particle size by photon correlation spectroscopy. A correlation between efficiency of transfection and more compact inner DNA structure and smaller particle sizes (around 250nm) was found. In addition, the visualization of liposomes and lipopolyplexes at the ultrastructural level revealed that the particles presenting enhanced transfection efficiencies are associated with higher electron density. Recently, PEI-based lipopolyplexes were reported to gain entry into the cell through the caveolae-mediated pathway. Based on the present finding that DOTAP:Chol liposomes exhibit the ability to form hexagonal structures when prepared at high concentrations, we propose that the lipopolyplexes containing DOTAP:Chol take advantage of such capacity to escape from the endocytotic vesicles, which will contribute to the observed high transfection efficiencies.
Hyperspectral confocal fluorescence microscopy, when combined with multivariate curve resolution (MCR), provides a powerful new tool for improved quantitative imaging of multi-fluorophore samples. Generally, fully non-negatively constrained models are used in the constrained alternating least squares MCR analyses of hyperspectral images since real emission components are expected to have non-negative pure emission spectra and concentrations. However, in this paper, we demonstrate four separate cases in which partially constrained models are preferred over the fully constrained MCR models. These partially constrained MCR models can sometimes be preferred when system artifacts are present in the data or where small perturbations of the major emission components are present due to environmental effects or small geometric changes in the fluorescing species. Here we demonstrate that in the cases of hyperspectral images obtained from multicomponent spherical beads, autofluorescence from fixed lung epithelial cells, fluorescence of quantum dots in aqueous solutions, and images of mercurochrome-stained endosperm portions of a wild-type corn seed, these alternative, partially constrained MCR analyses provide improved interpretability of the MCR solutions. Often the system artifacts or environmental effects are more readily described as first and/or second derivatives of the main emission components in these alternative MCR solutions since they indicate spectral shifts and/or spectral broadening or narrowing of the emission bands, respectively. Thus, this paper serves to demonstrate the need to test alternative partially constrained models when analyzing hyperspectral images with MCR methods.
Over the last years significant progress has been made in non-viral gene delivery mediated by cationic liposomes. However, the results obtained are still far from being satisfactory regarding transfection efficiency, particularly when compared to that achieved using viral vectors. We have previously demonstrated that association of transferrin with cationic liposomes significantly improves transfection in a large variety of cells, both in vitro and in vivo. In this work, several strategies have been explored in order to further improve transfection mediated by transferrin-associated lipoplexes. To this regard, the effect on transfection of pre-condensation of DNA with polyethylenimine of low MWs (2.7, 2.0 and 0.8 KDa) at various N/P ratios, lipid composition, cationic lipid/DNA (+/-) charge ratio and the presence of a surfactant in the lipoplexes was investigated. Two different modes for preparing the liposomes were tested and the extent of cell association of their complexes with DNA as well as their capacity to protect the carried DNA were evaluated. Our results show that complexes generated from cationic liposomes prepared by the ethanol injection method in which the carried DNA was pre-condensed with low MW polyethylenimine are highly efficient in mediating transfection. The differential modulating effect observed upon association of transferrin to various liposome formulations on transfection mediated by the polyethylenimine-complexes suggests that these complexes enter into the cells through different pathways (involving clathrin versus caveolin), most likely by taking advantage of their intrinsic biophysical properties to escape from the endosome to the cytosol.
Mannose binding lectin (MBL) has an important role in the activation of the complement system and opsonization of pathogenic microorganisms. Frequent polymorphisms found in the MBL2 gene affect the concentration and functionality of the protein and are associated with enhanced susceptibility to severe malaria in African children. Most MBL2 typing strategies were designed to the analysis of selected variants, the significance of whole haplotypes is poorly known. In this work, a new typing strategy was developed and validated in an association analysis of MBL2 with adult asymptomatic infection.
Highly malignant glioblastoma (GBM) is characterized by high genetic heterogeneity and infiltrative brain invasion patterns, and aberrant miRNA expression has been associated with hallmark malignant properties of GBM. The lack of effective GBM treatment options prompted us to investigate whether miRNAs would constitute promising therapeutic targets toward the generation of a gene therapy approach with clinical significance for this disease. Here, we show that microRNA-21 (miR-21) is upregulated and microRNA-128 (miR-128) is downregulated in mouse and human GBM samples, a finding that is corroborated by analysis of a large set of human GBM data from The Cancer Genome Atlas. Moreover, we demonstrate that oligonucleotide-mediated miR-21 silencing in U87 human GBM cells resulted in increased levels of the tumor suppressors PTEN and PDCD4, caspase 3/7 activation and decreased tumor cell proliferation. Cell exposure to pifithrin, an inhibitor of p53 transcriptional activity, reduced the caspase activity associated with decreased miR-21 expression. Finally, we demonstrate for the first time that miR-21 silencing enhances the antitumoral effect of the tyrosine kinase inhibitor sunitinib, whereas no therapeutic benefit is observed when coupling miR-21 silencing with the first-line drug temozolomide. Overall, our results provide evidence that miR-21 is uniformly overexpressed in GBM and constitutes a highly promising target for multimodal therapeutic approaches toward GBM.
The cytotoxicity of three lysine-derived surfactants with a gemini-like structure was evaluated on HeLa cells. The half maximal effective concentration (EC(50)) was estimated from the dose-response curves and the values indicated an increase in toxicity with the increase in alkyl chain length. The shorter chain length surfactant (C(6)) was shown to be less cytotoxic than sodium dodecyl sulfate (SDS), and all the lysine-derived surfactants were less toxic than the cationic cetyl trimethylammonium bromide (CTAB). The presence of ethyl (hydroxyethyl) cellulose (EHEC), shown previously to form thermoresponsive gels in combination with these surfactants, was found to contribute to a lower toxicity on HeLa cells. The conjecture is that the polymer-surfactant interactions in forming mixed micelles are the key contributors to the enhanced biocompatibility of the hydrogels. The most promising results were obtained in the presence of either the most hydrophilic surfactant or in the presence of the longest chain-length surfactant. For the latter, very low concentrations are needed to induce a sol-gel transition of EHEC semi-dilute solutions.
Glioblastoma (GBM) is a highly heterogeneous type of tumor characterized by genomic and signaling abnormalities affecting pathways involved in control of cell fate, including tumor-suppressor- and growth factor-regulated pathways. An aberrant miRNA expression has been observed in GBM, being associated with impaired cellular functions resulting in malignant transformation, proliferation and invasion. Here, we demonstrate for the first time that platelet-derived growth factor-B (PDGF-B), a potent angiogenic growth factor involved in GBM development and progression, promotes downregulation of pro-oncogenic (miR-21) and anti-oncogenic (miR-128) miRNAs, as well as upregulation/downregulation of several miRNAs involved in GBM pathology. Retrovirally mediated overexpression of PDGF-B in U87 human GBM cells or their prolonged exposure, as well as that of F98 rat glioma cells to this ligand, resulted in decreased miR-21 and miR-128 levels, which was associated with increased cell proliferation. Furthermore, siRNA-mediated PDGF-B silencing led to increased levels of miR-21 and miR-128, while miRNA modulation through overexpression of miR-21 did not alter the levels of PDGF-B. Finally, we demonstrate that modulation of tumor suppressors PTEN and p53 in U87 cells does not affect the decrease in miR-21 levels associated with PDGF-B overexpression. Overall, our findings suggest that, besides its role in inducing GBM tumorigenesis, PDGF-B may enhance tumor proliferation by modulating the expression of oncomiRs and tumor suppressor miRNAs in U87 human GBM cells.
The incidence of oral tumors is increasing around the world and despite recent advances in early detection and diagnosis, current treatments are still unsatisfactory. Recent data suggest that tumor persistence and recurrence could be due to the presence of a rare cell population called cancer stem cells (CSCs), which are generally spared by traditional treatments. Therefore, identification and characterization of CSCs are extremely important to develop novel and effective treatment strategies for cancer. The aim of this study was to identify and isolate CSCs in an established murine head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC) cell line and to investigate the influence of hypoxic conditions on the isolated cell popul-ation. Using the expression of the aldehyde dehydrogenase 1 (ALDH1) enzymatic activity, which is now recognized as a CSC marker in various tumors, we isolated a cell population expressing high levels of ALDH1 (ALDH1high) representing 1±0.6% in the murine SCC-VII cell line. These cells were injected subcutaneously in syngeneic animals to evaluate their tumorigenic properties. For the lowest injected cell dose (250 injected cells), tumor occurrence and median tumor size were higher in ALDH1high injected mice than in ALDH1low injected mice. Following an in vivo passage and culture in serum-free medium, the percentage of ALDH1high cells increased by 3?fold in SCC-VII CSCs (oral spheres) compared to the SCC-VII cell line. This percentage was further increased when oral spheres were cultured under hypoxic conditions. In conclusion, this study reports for the first time the isolation of HNSCC CSCs in a syngeneic mouse model and the use of hypoxia as a method to further enrich the ALDH1high cell population.
Ethyl(hydroxyethyl) cellulose (EHEC) is known to form hydrogels in water at elevated temperatures in the presence of an ionic surfactant. In this paper, the potential use of arginine-based surfactants is explored considering the production of a low toxicity thermoresponsive hydrogel for pharmaceutical and biomedical applications. The interactions between EHEC and the monomeric surfactant N(?)-lauroyl-L-arginine methyl ester (LAM) and two gemini surfactants N(?),N(?)-bis(N(?)-acylarginine) ?,?-dialkyl amides were evaluated by Rheo-Small Angle Light Scattering measurements. The complex viscosity of the systems was dependent on surfactant concentration and temperature. Under specific conditions, soft gels of homogeneous structure were produced. The cloud point (CP) of the EHEC-LAM system varied significantly with surfactant concentration, while only moderate CP changes were found in the presence of the gemini surfactants. Finally, the effect of the surfactants on the viability of a human cell line was evaluated. Despite the lower toxicity of LAM, the superior gel forming efficiency of the gemini surfactants at lower concentrations revealed their advantageous suitability as components of a biocompatible thermoresponsive gel system.
Suicide gene therapy is based on the introduction into tumor cells of a viral or a bacterial gene, which allows the conversion of a non-toxic compound into a lethal drug. Although suicide gene therapy has been successfully used in a large number of in vitro and in vivo studies, its application to cancer patients has not reached the desirable clinical significance. However, recent reports on pre-clinical cancer models demonstrate the huge potential of this strategy when used in combination with new therapeutic approaches. In this review, we summarize the different suicide gene systems and gene delivery vectors addressed to cancer, with particular emphasis on recently developed systems and associated bystander effects. In addition, we review the different strategies that have been used in combination with suicide gene therapy and provide some insights into the future directions of this approach, particularly towards cancer stem cell eradication.
The present work aimed at designing a lipid-based nanocarrier for siRNA delivery toward two cell sub-populations within breast tumors, the cancer and the endothelial cells from angiogenic tumor blood vessels. To achieve such goal, the F3 peptide, which is specifically internalized by nucleolin overexpressed on both those sub-populations, was used as a targeting moiety. The developed F3-targeted stable nucleic acid lipid particles presented adequate features for systemic administration. In addition, the attachment of the F3 peptide onto the liposomal surface enabled an internalization by both cancer and endothelial cells from angiogenic blood vessels that was significantly higher than the one observed with non-cancer cells. Sequence-specific downregulation of enhanced green fluorescent protein (eGFP) in eGFP-overexpressing human cancer cell lines, both at the protein and mRNA levels, was further observed upon delivery of anti-eGFP siRNA by F3-targeted liposomes, in contrast with the non-targeted counterpart. This effect was highly dependent on the content of poly(ethylene glycol) (PEG), as evidenced by the co-localization studies between the siRNA and the lysosomes. Overall, the present work represents an important contribution toward a nanoparticle with multi-targeting capabilities in breast cancer, both at the cellular and molecular level.
The increasing knowledge on the genetic basis of disease provides a platform for the development of promising gene-targeted therapies that can be applied to numerous pathological conditions, including cancer. Such genetic-based approaches involve the use of nucleic acids as therapeutic agents, either for the insertion or for the repair and regulation of specific genes. However, despite the huge pharmacological potential of these molecules, their application remains highly dependent on the development of delivery systems capable of mediating efficient cellular uptake. The discovery of a class of small peptides, the so-called cell-penetrating peptides (CPPs), which are able to very efficiently cross cell membranes through a mechanism that is independent of membrane receptors or transporters and avoids lysosomal enzymatic degradation, has been enthusiastically considered of key interest to improve noninvasive cellular delivery of therapeutic molecules. A large number of CPPs have been applied successfully to mediate the intracellular delivery of nucleic acids, including the S4(13)PV peptide for which interactions with membranes and resulting biological effects are illustrated in this chapter. Here, we provide a description of the experimental procedures for the preparation of CPP-based nucleic acid complexes and assessment of their formation, the selection of those protocols leading to the most efficient complexes, the biophysical characterization of CPP membrane interactions, and the evaluation of the biological and cytotoxic activity of the complexes.
RNA interference (RNAi) is a specific gene-silencing mechanism that can be mediated by the delivery of chemical synthesized small-interfering RNA (siRNA). RNAi might constitute a novel therapeutic approach for cancer treatment because researchers can easily design siRNA molecules to inhibit, specifically and potently, the expression of any protein involved in tumor initiation and progression. Despite all the potential of siRNA as a novel class of drugs, the limited cellular uptake, low biological stability, and unfavorable pharmacokinetics of siRNAs have limited their application in the clinic. Indeed, blood nucleases easily degrade naked siRNAs, and the kidneys rapidly eliminate these molecules. Furthermore, at the level of target cells, the negative charge and hydrophilicity of siRNAs strongly impair their cellular internalization. Therefore, the translation of siRNA to the clinical setting is highly dependent on the development of an appropriate delivery system, able to ameliorate siRNA pharmacokinetic and biodistribution properties. In this regard, major advances have been achieved with lipid-based nanocarriers sterically stabilized by poly(ethylene glycol) (PEG), such as the stabilized nucleic acid lipid particles (SNALP). However, PEG has not solved all the major problems associated with siRNA delivery. In this Account, the major problems associated with PEGylated lipid-based nanoparticles, and the different strategies to overcome them are discussed. Although PEG has revolutionized the field of nanocarriers, cumulative experience has revealed that upon repeated administration, PEGylated liposomes lose their ability to circulate over long periods in the bloodstream, a phenomenon known as accelerated blood clearance. In addition, PEGylation impairs the internalization of the siRNA into the target cell and its subsequent escape from the endocytic pathway, which reduces biological activity. An interesting approach to overcome such limitations relies on the design of novel exchangeable PEG-derivatized lipids. After systemic administration, these lipids can be released from the nanoparticle surface. Moreover, the design and synthesis of novel cationic lipids that are more fusogenic and the use of internalizing targeting ligands have contributed to the emergence of novel lipid-based nanoparticles with remarkable transfection efficiency.
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