Jonathan Kopechek

Asst Professor


Cardiac Gene Expression Knockdown Using Small Inhibitory RNA-Loaded Microbubbles and Ultrasound- 2016

RNA interference has potential therapeutic value for cardiac disease, but targeted delivery of interfering RNA is a challenge. Custom designed microbubbles, in conjunction with ultrasound, can deliver small inhibitory RNA to target tissues in vivo. The efficacy of cardiac RNA interference using a microbubble-ultrasound theranostic platform has not been demonstrated in vivo. Therefore, our objective was to test the hypothesis that custom designed microbubbles and ultrasound can mediate effective delivery of small inhibitory RNA to the heart. Microbubble and ultrasound mediated cardiac RNA interference was tested in transgenic mice displaying cardiac-restricted luciferase expression. Luciferase expression was assayed in select tissues of untreated mice (n = 14). Mice received intravenous infusion of cationic microbubbles bearing small inhibitory RNA directed against luciferase (n = 9) or control RNA (n = 8) during intermittent cardiac-directed ultrasound at mechanical index of 1.6. Simultaneous echocardiography in a separate group of mice (n = 3) confirmed microbubble destruction and replenishment during treatment. Three days post treatment, cardiac luciferase messenger RNA and protein levels were significantly lower in ultrasound-treated mice receiving microbubbles loaded with small inhibitory RNA directed against luciferase compared to mice receiving microbubbles bearing control RNA (23+/-7% and 33+/-7% of control mice, p<0.01 and p = 0.03, respectively). Passive cavitation detection focused on the heart confirmed that insonification resulted in inertial cavitation. In conclusion, small inhibitory RNA-loaded microbubbles and ultrasound directed at the heart significantly reduced the expression of a reporter gene. Ultrasound-targeted destruction of RNA-loaded microbubbles may be an effective image-guided strategy for therapeutic RNA interference in cardiac disease.

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