Background: Radiation-induced fibrosis (RIF) is a dose-limiting complication of cancer radiotherapy and causes serious problems, i.e. restricted tissue flexibility, pain, ulceration or necrosis. Recently, we have successfully treated RIF in a mouse model by intraperitoneal administration of chitosan/siRNA nanoparticles directed towards silencing TNF alpha in local macrophage populations, but the mechanism for the therapeutic effect at the lesion site remains unclear.
Methods: Using the same murine RIF model we utilized an optical imaging technique and fluorescence microscopy to investigate the uptake of chitosan/fluorescently labeled siRNA nanoparticles by peritoneal macrophages and their subsequent migration to the inflamed tissue in the RIF model.
Results: We observed strong accumulation of the fluorescent signal in the lesion site of the irradiated leg up to 24 hours using the optical imaging system. We further confirm by immunohistochemical staining that Cy3 labeled siRNA resides in macrophages of the irradiated leg.
Conclusion: We provide a proof-of-concept for host macrophage trafficking towards the inflamed region in a murine RIF model, which thereby suggests that the chitosan/siRNA nanoparticle may constitute a general treatment for inflammatory diseases using the natural homing potential of macrophages to inflammatory sites.