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Anti-JNK2 peptide–siRNA nanostructures improve plaque endothelium and reduce thrombotic risk in atherosclerotic mice

Authors Pan H, Palekar RU, Hou KK, Bacon J, Yan H, Springer LE, Akk A, Yang L, Miller MJ, Pham CTN, Schlesinger PH, Wickline SA

Received 18 March 2018

Accepted for publication 15 June 2018

Published 6 September 2018 Volume 2018:13 Pages 5187—5205


Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single anonymous peer review

Peer reviewer comments 2

Editor who approved publication: Dr Thomas Webster

Hua Pan,1 Rohun U Palekar,2 Kirk K Hou,3 John Bacon,2 Huimin Yan,3 Luke E Springer,3 Antonina Akk,3 Lihua Yang,3 Mark J Miller,3 Christine TN Pham,3 Paul H Schlesinger,3 Samuel A Wickline1

1Department of Cardiovascular Sciences, USF Health, Morsani College of Medicine, The USF Health Heart Institute, University of South Florida, Tampa, FL, USA; 2Department of Medicine, Washington University, St Louis, MO, USA; 3Department of Biomedical Engineering, Washington University, St Louis, MO, USA

Background: A direct and independent role of inflammation in atherothrombosis was recently highlighted by the Canakinumab Antiinflammatory Thrombosis Outcome Study (CANTOS) trial, showing the benefit of inhibiting signaling molecules, eg, interleukins. Accordingly, we sought to devise a flexible platform for preventing the inflammatory drivers at their source to preserve plaque endothelium and mitigate procoagulant risk.
Methods: p5RHH-siRNA nanoparticles were formulated through self-assembly processes. The therapeutic efficacy of p5RHH-JNK2 siRNA nanoparticles was evaluated both in vitro and in vivo.
Results: Because JNK2 is critical to macrophage uptake of oxidized lipids through scavenger receptors that engender expression of myriad inflammatory molecules, we designed an RNA-silencing approach based on peptide–siRNA nanoparticles (p5RHH-siRNA) that localize to atherosclerotic plaques exhibiting disrupted endothelial barriers to achieve control of JNK2 expression by macrophages. After seven doses of p5RHH-JNK2 siRNA nanoparticles over 3.5 weeks in ApoE-/- mice on a Western diet, both JNK2 mRNA and protein levels were significantly decreased by 26% (P=0.044) and 42% (P=0.042), respectively. Plaque-macrophage populations were markedly depleted and NFκB and STAT3-signaling pathways inhibited by 47% (P<0.001) and 46% (P=0.004), respectively. Endothelial barrier integrity was restored (2.6-fold reduced permeability to circulating 200 nm nanoparticles in vivo, P=0.003) and thrombotic risk attenuated (200% increased clotting times to carotid artery injury, P=0.02), despite blood-cholesterol levels persistently exceeding 1,000 mg/dL. No adaptive or innate immunoresponses toward the nanoparticles were observed, and blood tests after the completion of treatment confirmed the largely nontoxic nature of this approach.
Conclusion: The ability to formulate these nanostructures rapidly and easily interchange or multiplex their oligonucleotide content represents a promising approach for controlling deleterious signaling events locally in advanced atherosclerosis.

Keywords: siRNA, JNK2, peptide nanoparticles, perfluorocarbon nanoparticles, macrophages, atherosclerosis, plaque, ApoE-/- mice, thrombosis, endothelium, erosions, scavenger receptors

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