siRNA Delivery for the Prevention of Post-Traumatic Osteoarthritis
Osteoarthritis (OA) is a debilitating and prevalent chronic disease, but there are no approved disease modifying OA drugs (DMOADs), only pharmaceuticals for pain management. OA progression, particularly for post-traumatic osteoarthritis (PTOA), is associated with inflammation and enzymatic degradation of the extracellular matrix. In particular, Matrix Metalloproteinase 13 (MMP13) breaks down collagen type 2 (CII), a key structural component of cartilage extracellular matrix, and consequently, matrix degradation fragments perpetuate inflammation and a degenerative cycle that leads to progressive joint pathology. Here, we tested targeted delivery of endosome-escaping, MMP13 RNA interference (RNAi) nanoparticles (NPs) as a DMOAD. The new targeting approach pursued here deviates from the convention of targeting specific cell types (e.g., through cell surface receptors) and instead leverages a monoclonal antibody (mAbCII) that targets extracellular CII that becomes uniquely accessible at early OA focal defects. Targeted mAbCII-siNPs create an in situ NP depot for retention and potent activity within OA joints. The mAbCII-siNPs loaded with MMP13 siRNA (mAbCII-siNP/siMMP13) potently suppressed MMP13 expression (95% silencing) in TNF α -stimulated chondrocytes in vitro, and the targeted mAbCII-siNPs had higher binding to trypsin-damaged porcine cartilage than untargeted control NPs. In an acute mechanical injury mouse model of PTOA, mAbCII-siNP/siMMP13 achieved 80% reduction in MMP13 expression (p = 0.00231), whereas a non-targeted control achieved only 55% silencing. In a more severe, PTOA model, weekly mAbCII-siNP/siMMP13 long-term treatment provided significant protection of cartilage integrity (0.45+/-.3 vs 1.6+/-.5 on the OARSI scale; p=0.0166), and overall joint structure (1.3+/-.6 vs 2.8+/-.2 on the Degenerative Joint Disease scale; p<0.05). Intra-articular mAbCII-siNPs better protected articular cartilage (OARSI score) relative to either single or weekly treatment with the clinical gold stand steroid treatment methylprednisolone. Finally, multiplexed gene expression analysis of 254 inflammation-related genes showed that MMP13 inhibition suppressed clusters of genes associated with tissue restructuring, angiogenesis (associated with synovial inflammation and thickening), innate immune response, and proteolysis. This work establishes the new concept of targeting unique local extracellular matrix signatures to sustain retention and increase delivery efficacy of biologics with intracellular activity and also validates the promise of MMP13 RNAi as a DMOAD in a clinically-relevant therapeutic context. While polymeric nanoformulations have proven a potent means of siRNA delivery, encapsulation of these nanoparticles within a microstructure for sustained release in a localized region enables prolonged gene silencing where smaller particles are quickly cleared after injection. The development of a microplate structure, first for the delivery of a corticosteroid and then siRNA-complexed nanoparticles, is described. In vitro release and activity were characterized by multiple approaches including measurement of fluorescent nucleic acid release, siRNA release quantified by ribogreen assay, luciferase model gene silencing, qPCR of MMP13 expression, and endosome disruption assays. Release was assessed through five weeks, confirming that this strategy met the criteria to advance to in vivo, head-to-head comparison with our mAbCII-siNP carrier system outlined herein.