Intestinal permeability, digestive stability and oral bioavailability of dietary small RNAs

Sci Rep. 2018 Jul 6;8(1):10253. doi: 10.1038/s41598-018-28207-1.


Impactful dietary RNA delivery requires improving uptake and enhancing digestive stability. In mouse feeding regimes, we have demonstrated that a plant-based ribosomal RNA (rRNA), MIR2911, is more bioavailable than synthetic MIR2911 or canonical microRNAs (miRNAs). Here mutagenesis was used to discern if MIR2911 has a distinctive sequence that aids stability and uptake. Various mutations had modest impacts while one scrambled sequence displayed significantly enhanced digestive stability, serum stability, and bioavailability. To assess if small RNA (sRNA) bioavailability in mice could be improved by increasing gut permeability, various diets, genetic backgrounds and pharmacological methods were surveyed. An intraperitoneal injection of anti-CD3 antibody enhanced gut permeability which correlated with improved uptake of the digestively stable scrambled MIR2911 variant. However, the bioavailability of canonical miRNAs was not enhanced. Similarly, interleukin-10 (IL-10)-deficient mice and mice treated with aspirin displayed enhanced gut permeability that did not enhance uptake of most plant-based sRNAs. This work supports a model where dietary RNAs are vulnerable to digestion and altering gut permeability alone will not impact apparent bioavailability. We suggest that some dietary sRNA may be more digestively stable and methods to broadly increase sRNA uptake requires delivery vehicles to optimize gut and serum stability in the consumer.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biological Availability
  • Cell Membrane Permeability*
  • Diet*
  • Intestinal Mucosa / physiology*
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Mice, Inbred ICR
  • MicroRNAs / genetics
  • MicroRNAs / metabolism*
  • RNA, Plant / genetics
  • RNA, Plant / metabolism*


  • MicroRNAs
  • RNA, Plant