Development of a novel RNAi therapy: Engineered miR-31 exosomes promoted the healing of diabetic wounds

Bioact Mater. 2021 Feb 20;6(9):2841-2853. doi: 10.1016/j.bioactmat.2021.02.007. eCollection 2021 Sep.


Rationale: Chronic wounds associated with diabetes exact a heavy burden on individuals and society and do not have a specific treatment. Exosome therapy is an extension of stem cell therapy, and RNA interference (RNAi)-based therapy is a type of advanced precision therapy. Based on the discovery of chronic wound-related genes in diabetes, we combined exosome therapy and RNAi therapy through an engineering approach for the treatment of diabetic chronic wounds.

Methods: We combined exosome therapy and RNAi therapy to establish a precision therapy for diabetes-associated wounds via an engineered exosome approach.

Results: First, chronic diabetic wounds express low levels of miR-31-5p compared with nondiabetic wounds, and an miR-31-5p mimic was shown to be effective in promoting the proliferation and migration of three wound-related cell types in vitro. Second, bioinformatics analysis, luciferase reporter assays and western blotting suggested that miR-31-5p promoted angiogenesis, fibrogenesis and reepithelization by inhibiting factor-inhibiting HIF-1 (HIF1AN, also named FIH) and epithelial membrane protein-1 (EMP-1). Third, engineered miR-31 exosomes were generated as a miR-31-5p RNAi therapeutic agent. In vivo, the engineered miR-31 exosomes promoted diabetic wound healing by enhancing angiogenesis, fibrogenesis and reepithelization.

Conclusion: Engineered miR-31 exosomes are an ideal disease pathophysiology-initiated RNAi therapeutic agent for diabetic wounds.

Keywords: Diabetes chronic wounds; Engineered exosomes; Precision therapy; RNAi therapy; miR-31-5p.