RNA interference (RNAi) has been regarded as a revolutionary tool for manipulating target biological processes as well as an emerging and promising therapeutic strategy. In contrast to the tangible and obvious effectiveness of RNAi in vitro, silencing target gene expression in vivo using small interfering RNA (siRNA) has been a very challenging task due to multiscale barriers, including rapid excretion, low stability in blood serum, nonspecific accumulation in tissues, poor cellular uptake and inefficient intracellular release. This minireview introduces major challenges in achieving efficient siRNA delivery in vivo and discusses recent advances in overcoming them using chemically modified siRNA, viral siRNA vectors and nonviral siRNA carriers. Enhanced specificity and efficiency of RNAi in vivo via selective accumulations in desired tissues, specific binding to target cells and facilitated intracellular trafficking are also commonly attempted utilizing targeting moieties, cell-penetrating peptides, fusogenic peptides and stimuli-responsive polymers. Overall, the crucial roles of the interdisciplinary approaches to optimizing RNAi in vivo, by efficiently and specifically delivering siRNA to target tissues and cells, are highlighted.
© 2010 The Authors Journal compilation © 2010 FEBS.