Intranasal drug delivery of small interfering RNA targeting Beclin1 encapsulated with polyethylenimine (PEI) in mouse brain to achieve HIV attenuation

Sci Rep. 2017 May 12;7(1):1862. doi: 10.1038/s41598-017-01819-9.


We previously reported that activation of the host autophagic protein, Beclin1, by HIV-1 infection represents an essential mechanism in controlling HIV replication and viral-induced inflammatory responses in microglial cells. Existing antiretroviral therapeutic approaches have been limited in their ability to cross the blood-brain barrier effectively and recognize and selectively eliminate persistent HIV-infected brain reservoirs. In the present study and for the first time, the bio-distribution and efficacy of noninvasive intranasal delivery of small interfering RNA (siRNA) against the Beclin1 gene using the cationic linear polyethylenimines (PEI) as a gene carrier was investigated in adult mouse brain. Fluorescein isothiocyanate (FITC)-labeled control siRNA delivered intranasally was found in the cytoplasm of neurons and glial cells of the prefrontal cortex at 4 and 24 hours post-delivery, with no major adverse immune reaction encountered. Intranasal delivery of the siRNA targeting Beclin1 significantly depleted the target protein expression levels in brain tissues with no evidence of toxicity. Binding of siRNA to PEI-polymer was characterized and confirmed by Raman spectroscopy. These results indicate that the intranasal drug delivery allows for the direct delivery of the PEI-siRNA nano-complex to the central nervous system, which could potentially offer an efficient means of gene silencing-mediated therapy in the HIV-infected brain.

Publication types

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