A locked nucleic acid oligonucleotide targeting microRNA 122 is well-tolerated in cynomolgus monkeys

Nucleic Acid Ther. 2012 Jun;22(3):152-61. doi: 10.1089/nat.2011.0332. Epub 2012 Apr 30.


MicroRNA 122 (miR-122) is liver specific, fine-tunes lipid metabolism, and is required for hepatitis C virus (HCV) abundance. Miravirsen, an oligonucleotide with locked nucleic acid, binds to miR-122, potently inhibiting its activity. We aimed at determining the safety of the miR-122 antagonism in vivo in 6 to 10 cynomolgus monkeys/group intravenously treated with a range of dose levels twice weekly for 4 weeks. Survival, body weights, clinical signs, and cardiovascular and ophthalmologic parameters were unaffected. Anticipated hypolipidemia due to the inhibition of miR-122 was observed in all treated animals. Only the highest dose level produced distinct transient prolongations of clotting times, slight alternative complement pathway activation, and a reversible increase of hepatic transaminases. Distribution half-life was 10-20 minutes, and accumulation was mainly in the kidney and liver with slow elimination. Microscopic examinations revealed granulated Kupffer cells and lymph node macrophages, cytoplasmic vacuolation in proximal renal tubules, and hepatocytes. The granules were most likely phagolysosomes containing miravirsen. A slightly increased incidence of hepatocyte apoptosis was observed in some monkeys given the highest dose; otherwise, there was no evidence of treatment-related degenerative changes in any organ. In conclusion, the maximal inhibition of miR-122 was associated with limited phenotypic changes, indicating that the clinical assessment of miravirsen as host factor antagonist for treatment of HCV infections is warranted.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Female
  • Half-Life
  • Macaca fascicularis
  • Male
  • Nucleic Acids / genetics*
  • Nucleic Acids / pharmacokinetics


  • Nucleic Acids