The goal of this study was to develop and characterize a novel intravaginal film platform for targeted delivery of small interfering RNA (siRNA)-loaded nanoparticles (NP) to dendritic cells as a potential gene therapy for the prevention of sexually transmitted human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection. Poly(ethylene glycol) (PEG)-functionalized poly(D, L-lactic-co-glycolic acid) (PLGA)/polyethylenimine (PEI)/siRNA NP (siRNA-NP) were fabricated using a modified emulsion-solvent evaporation method and characterized for particle size, zeta potential, encapsulation efficiency (EE), and siRNA release. siRNA-NP were decorated with anti-HLA-DR antibody (siRNA-NP-Ab) for targeting delivery to HLA-DR+ dendritic cells (DCs) and homogeneously dispersed in a biodegradable film consisting of poly vinyl alcohol (PVA) and λ-carrageenan. The siRNA-NP-Ab-loaded film (siRNA-NP-Ab-film) was transparent, displayed suitable physicomechanical properties, and was noncytotoxic. Targeting activity was evaluated in a mucosal coculture model consisting of a vaginal epithelial monolayer (VK2/E6E7 cells) and differentiated KG-1 cells (HLA-DR+ DCs). siRNA-NP-Ab were rapidly released from the film and were able to penetrate the epithelial layer to be taken up by differentiated KG-1 cells. siRNA-NP-Ab demonstrated higher targeting activity and significantly higher knockdown of synaptosome-associated 23-kDa protein (SNAP-23) mRNA and protein when compared to siRNA-NP without antibody conjugation. Overall, these data suggest that our novel siRNA-NP-Ab-film may be a promising platform for preventing HIV infection within the female genital tract.
Keywords: SNAP-23; intravaginal delivery; microbicides; mucosal coculture model; polymeric film.