MicroRNAs (miRNAs) have recently received great attention for their regulatory roles in diverse cellular processes and for their contribution to several human pathologies. Modulation of miRNAs in vivo provides beneficial therapeutic strategies for the treatment of many diseases, as evidenced by various preclinical studies. However, specific issues regarding the in vivo use of miRNA inhibitors (antimiRs) such as organ-specific delivery, optimal dosing and formulation of the best chemistry to obtain efficient miRNA inhibition remain to be addressed. Here, we aimed at comparing the in vivo efficacy of different chemistry-based antimiR oligonucleotides to inhibit cardiac expression of miR-199b, a highly promising therapeutic target for the treatment of pressure overload-induced cardiac dysfunction. For this purpose, four different designs of oligonucleotides to inhibit miR-199b were initially developed. Systemic administration to wildtype mice on three consecutive days was followed by organ harvesting, seven days after the first injection, in order to quantify the dose-dependent changes in miR-199b expression levels. When comparing the efficiency of each inhibitor at the highest applied dose we observed that the antagomir was the only inhibitor inducing complete inhibition of miR-199b in the heart. LNA reduced expression in the heart by 50 percent while the Zen-AMO and F/MOE chemistries failed to repress miR-199b expression in the heart at any given dose, in vivo. Further optimization was achieved by subjecting the antagomir and LNA nucleotides to additional chemical modifications. Interestingly, antagomir modification by replacing the cholesterol moiety from the 3' to the 5' end of the molecule significantly improved the inhibitory capacity, as reflected by a 75 percent downregulation of miR-199b expression already at a concentration of 5 mg/kg/day. Similar results could be obtained with a LNA-RNA molecule but upon administration of 80 mg/kg/day. These findings show that, from all the chemistries tested by us, an antagomir carrying the cholesterol group at the 5' end was the most efficient inhibitor of miR-199b in the heart, in vivo. Moreover, our data also emphasize the importance of chemistry optimization and best dose range finding to achieve the greatest efficacy in miRNA inhibition in vivo.
Keywords: Antimirs; Antisense oligonucleotides; Chemical modifications; Heart failure; microRNAs.
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