Theranostics 2019; 9(8):2346-2360. doi:10.7150/thno.29945

Research Paper

Localized injection of miRNA-21-enriched extracellular vesicles effectively restores cardiac function after myocardial infarction

Yu Song1*, Cheng Zhang1,2*, Jinxiang Zhang3*, Zhanying Jiao1, Nianguo Dong4✉, Guobin Wang2✉, Zheng Wang1,2✉, Lin Wang1,5✉

1. Research Center for Tissue Engineering and Regenerative Medicine, Union Hospital, Tongji Medical College, Huazhong University of Science and Technology, Wuhan, 430022, China
2. Department of Gastrointestinal Surgery, Union Hospital, Tongji Medical College, Huazhong University of Science and Technology, Wuhan, 430022, China
3. Department of Emergency Surgery, Union Hospital, Tongji Medical College, Huazhong University of Science and Technology, Wuhan, 430022, China
4. Department of Cardiovascular Surgery, Union Hospital, Tongji Medical College, Huazhong University of Science and Technology, Wuhan, 430022, China
5. Department of Clinical Laboratory, Union Hospital, Tongji Medical College, Huazhong University of Science and Technology, Wuhan, 430022, China
*, These authors contributed equally to this work.

Abstract

Myocardial infarction (MI), a main cause of heart failure, leads to irreversible cardiomyocytes loss and cardiac function impairment. Current clinical treatments for MI are largely ineffective as they mostly aim to alleviate symptoms rather than repairing the injured myocardium. Thus, development of more effective therapies is compelling. This study aims to investigate whether the extracellular vesicles (EVs) carrying specific anti-apoptotic miRNA can be efficiently internalized into myocardium to achieve desired therapeutic outcomes.

Methods: EVs were isolated from HEK293T cells overexpressing miRNA-21 (miR21-EVs) and identified. The RNase resistant rate of miR21-EVs was calculated by real-time PCR and compared with liposomes and polyethylenimine (PEI). Confocal laser scanning microscopy was used for visualizing the cellular internalization of miR21-EVs in primary cultured mouse neonatal cardiomyocytes (CMs), H9c2 rat cardiomyoblasts, and human umbilical vein endothelial cells (HUVECs). The effect of miR21-EVs on the expression of PDCD4, a pro-apoptotic protein that plays an important role in regulating myocardial apoptosis, was also evaluated in these three cell types by real-time PCR and Western blot analysis. In vivo, miR21-EVs was directly injected into the infarct zone following ligation of the left anterior descending of coronary artery in mice. The miR21-EVs distribution and blood vessel (capillary and arteriole) density were evaluated by immunofluorescence staining. Fluorescence in situ hybridization of miRNA-21 was also carried out to confirm the miR21-EVs distribution in vitro and in vivo. The protein level of PDCD4 in myocardium was assessed by immunohistochemical staining. The anti-apoptotic effect of miR21-EVs in cardiomyocytes and endothelial cells were measured using TUNEL staining. Four weeks after injection, the cardiac histological and functional recovery was evaluated by histochemistry staining and echocardiography, respectively.

Results: In contrast to liposomes and PEI, EVs significantly inhibited miRNA-21 degradation. MiR21-EVs efficiently delivered miRNA-21 into cardiomyocytes and endothelial cells within 4 hours. Exogenous miRNA-21 in turn significantly reduced PDCD4 expression and attenuated cell apoptosis in vitro. Consistently and importantly, in a preclinical MI animal model, miRNA-21-loaded EVs effectively sent miRNA-21 into cardiomyocytes and endothelial cells, drastically inhibited cell apoptosis and led to significant cardiac function improvement.

Conclusion: Our results suggest the cell-derived, genetically engineered EVs may be used therapeutically for the delivery of miRNAs for the rescue of MI and may benefit patients in the future.

Keywords: extracellular vesicles, miRNA-21, myocardial infarction, functional recovery

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How to cite this article:
Song Y, Zhang C, Zhang J, Jiao Z, Dong N, Wang G, Wang Z, Wang L. Localized injection of miRNA-21-enriched extracellular vesicles effectively restores cardiac function after myocardial infarction. Theranostics 2019; 9(8):2346-2360. doi:10.7150/thno.29945. Available from http://www.thno.org/v09p2346.htm