Targeted exosome-mediated delivery of opioid receptor Mu siRNA for the treatment of morphine relapse

Sci Rep. 2015 Dec 3;5:17543. doi: 10.1038/srep17543.


Cell-derived exosomes have been demonstrated to be efficient carriers of small RNAs to neighbouring or distant cells, highlighting the preponderance of exosomes as carriers for gene therapy over other artificial delivery tools. In the present study, we employed modified exosomes expressing the neuron-specific rabies viral glycoprotein (RVG) peptide on the membrane surface to deliver opioid receptor mu (MOR) siRNA into the brain to treat morphine addiction. We found that MOR siRNA could be efficiently packaged into RVG exosomes and was associated with argonaute 2 (AGO2) in exosomes. These exosomes efficiently and specifically delivered MOR siRNA into Neuro2A cells and the mouse brain. Functionally, siRNA-loaded RVG exosomes significantly reduced MOR mRNA and protein levels. Surprisingly, MOR siRNA delivered by the RVG exosomes strongly inhibited morphine relapse via the down-regulation of MOR expression levels. In conclusion, our results demonstrate that targeted RVG exosomes can efficiently transfer siRNA to the central nervous system and mediate the treatment of morphine relapse by down-regulating MOR expression levels. Our study provides a brand new strategy to treat drug relapse and diseases of the central nervous system.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Exosomes / genetics
  • Gene Expression Regulation / genetics
  • Gene Transfer Techniques*
  • Genetic Therapy*
  • Glycoproteins / administration & dosage
  • Glycoproteins / genetics*
  • Humans
  • Mice
  • Morphine / metabolism
  • Morphine Dependence / genetics
  • Morphine Dependence / pathology
  • Morphine Dependence / therapy*
  • Neurons / metabolism
  • Neurons / pathology
  • Peptide Fragments / administration & dosage
  • Peptide Fragments / genetics*
  • RNA, Messenger / biosynthesis
  • RNA, Messenger / genetics
  • RNA, Small Interfering / genetics
  • RNA, Small Interfering / therapeutic use
  • Receptors, Opioid, mu / genetics*
  • Receptors, Opioid, mu / therapeutic use
  • Viral Proteins / administration & dosage
  • Viral Proteins / genetics*


  • Glycoproteins
  • OPRM1 protein, human
  • Peptide Fragments
  • RNA, Messenger
  • RNA, Small Interfering
  • Receptors, Opioid, mu
  • Viral Proteins
  • rabies virus glycoprotein peptide
  • Morphine