In vivo delivery of small interfering RNA to tumors and their vasculature by novel dendritic nanocarriers

FASEB J. 2010 Sep;24(9):3122-34. doi: 10.1096/fj.09-149641. Epub 2010 Apr 12.


New targets for RNA interference (RNAi)-based cancer therapy are constantly emerging from the increasing knowledge on key molecular pathways that are paramount for carcinogenesis. Nevertheless, in vivo delivery of small interfering RNA (siRNA) remains a crucial challenge for therapeutic success. siRNAs on their own are not taken up by most mammalian cells in a way that preserves their activity. Moreover, when applied in vivo, siRNA-based approaches are all limited by poor penetration into the target tissue and low silencing efficiency. To circumvent these limitations, we have developed novel polymerized polyglycerol-based dendrimer core shell structures to deliver siRNA to tumors in vivo. These cationic dendrimers can strongly improve the stability of the siRNA, its intracellular trafficking, its silencing efficacy, and its accumulation in the tumor environment owing to the enhanced permeability and retention effect. Here, we show that our dendritic nanocarriers exhibited low cytotoxicity and high efficacy in delivering active siRNA into cells. With use of human glioblastoma and murine mammary adenocarcinoma cell lines as model systems, these siRNA-dendrimer polyplexes silenced the luciferase gene, ectopically overexpressed in these cells. Importantly, significant gene silencing was accomplished in vivo within 24 h of treatment with our luciferase siRNA-nanocarrier polyplexes, as measured by noninvasive intravital bioluminescence imaging. Moreover, our siRNA-nanocarriers show very low levels of toxicity as no significant weight loss was observed after intravenous administration of the polyplexes. We show a proof of concept for siRNA delivery in vivo using a luciferase-based model. We predict that in vivo silencing of important cell growth and angiogenesis regulator genes in a selective manner will justify this approach as a successful anticancer therapy.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Line
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Cell Survival / genetics
  • Cell Survival / physiology
  • Dendrimers / administration & dosage*
  • Dendrimers / chemistry*
  • Gene Silencing / physiology
  • Humans
  • Mice
  • Microscopy, Atomic Force
  • Nanotechnology
  • Neoplasms / therapy*
  • RNA, Small Interfering / administration & dosage*
  • RNA, Small Interfering / genetics
  • RNA, Small Interfering / physiology*
  • Scattering, Radiation


  • Dendrimers
  • PAMAM Starburst
  • RNA, Small Interfering