Autophagy induction and PDGFR-β knockdown by siRNA-encapsulated nanoparticles reduce chlamydia trachomatis infection

Sci Rep. 2019 Feb 4;9(1):1306. doi: 10.1038/s41598-018-36601-y.


C. trachomatis is the most common sexually transmitted bacterial infection in the world. Although the infection can be easily controlled by the use of antibiotics, several reports of clinical isolates that are resistant to antibiotics have prompted us to search for alternative strategies to manage this disease. In this paper, we developed a nanoparticle formulation (PDGFR-β siRNA-PEI-PLGA-PEG NP) that can simultaneously induce autophagy in human cells and knock down PDGFR-β gene expression, an important surface binding protein for C. trachomatis, as a strategy to reduce vaginal infection of C. trachomatis. PDGFR-β siRNA-PEI-PLGA-PEG NP significantly induced autophagy in human vaginal epithelial cells (VK2/E6E7) 48 hr post treatment by improving autophagic degradation activity without causing inflammation, apoptosis or any decrease in cell viability. Beclin-1, VPS34 (markers for initiation stage of autophagy), UVRAG, TECPR-1 (markers for degradation stage of autophagy) were found to be significantly upregulated after treatment with PDGFR-β siRNA-PEI-PLGA-PEG NP. Furthermore, PDGFR-β siRNA-PEI-PLGA-PEG NP decreased PDGFR-β mRNA expression by 50% and protein expression by 43% in VK2/E6E7 cells 48 hr post treatment. Treatment of cells with PDGFR-β siRNA-PEI-PLGA-PEG NP significantly decreased the intracellular C. trachomatis and extracellular release of C. trachomatis by approximately 65% and 67%, respectively, in vitro through augmenting autophagic degradation pathways and reducing bacterial binding simultaneously.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Autophagy / genetics*
  • Cell Line
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Cell Survival / genetics
  • Chlamydia Infections / genetics*
  • Chlamydia Infections / microbiology*
  • Chlamydia trachomatis*
  • Female
  • Gene Knockdown Techniques
  • Host-Pathogen Interactions / genetics*
  • Humans
  • Nanoparticles*
  • RNA, Small Interfering*
  • Receptor, Platelet-Derived Growth Factor beta / genetics*
  • Transfection / methods


  • RNA, Small Interfering
  • Receptor, Platelet-Derived Growth Factor beta