Increased erythropoiesis in mice injected with submicrogram quantities of pseudouridine-containing mRNA encoding erythropoietin

Mol Ther. 2012 May;20(5):948-53. doi: 10.1038/mt.2012.7. Epub 2012 Feb 14.


Advances in the optimization of in vitro-transcribed mRNA are bringing mRNA-mediated therapy closer to reality. In cultured cells, we recently achieved high levels of translation with high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC)-purified, in vitro-transcribed mRNAs containing the modified nucleoside pseudouridine. Importantly, pseudouridine rendered the mRNA non-immunogenic. Here, using erythropoietin (EPO)-encoding mRNA complexed with TransIT-mRNA, we evaluated this new generation of mRNA in vivo. A single injection of 100 ng (0.005 mg/kg) mRNA elevated serum EPO levels in mice significantly by 6 hours and levels were maintained for 4 days. In comparison, mRNA containing uridine produced 10-100-fold lower levels of EPO lasting only 1 day. EPO translated from pseudouridine-mRNA was functional and caused a significant increase of both reticulocyte counts and hematocrits. As little as 10 ng mRNA doubled reticulocyte numbers. Weekly injection of 100 ng of EPO mRNA was sufficient to increase the hematocrit from 43 to 57%, which was maintained with continued treatment. Even when a large amount of pseudouridine-mRNA was injected, no inflammatory cytokines were detectable in plasma. Using macaques, we could also detect significantly-increased serum EPO levels following intraperitoneal injection of rhesus EPO mRNA. These results demonstrate that HPLC-purified, pseudouridine-containing mRNAs encoding therapeutic proteins have great potential for clinical applications.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Count
  • Cell Proliferation
  • Chromatography, High Pressure Liquid
  • Drug Delivery Systems
  • Erythropoiesis / drug effects*
  • Erythropoietin / biosynthesis
  • Erythropoietin / genetics*
  • Female
  • Genetic Vectors
  • Hematocrit
  • Humans
  • Injections, Intraperitoneal
  • Macaca mulatta
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred BALB C
  • Pseudouridine / genetics*
  • RNA, Messenger* / administration & dosage
  • RNA, Messenger* / genetics
  • Reticulocytes / cytology


  • RNA, Messenger
  • Erythropoietin
  • Pseudouridine