Molecular Therapy : The Journal Of The American Society Of Gene Therapy
Microglial activation followed by recruitment of blood-borne macrophages into the central nervous system (CNS) aggravates neuroinflammation. Specifically, in multiple sclerosis (MS) as well as in experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE), a rodent model of MS, activated microglia and macrophages (Mg/Mφ) promote proinflammatory responses and expand demyelination in the CNS. However, a potent therapeutic approach through the systemic route for regulating their functions has not yet been developed. Here, we demonstrate that a systemically injected DNA/RNA heteroduplex oligonucleotide (HDO), composed of an antisense oligonucleotide (ASO) and its complementary RNA, conjugated to cholesterol (Chol-HDO) distributed more efficiently to demyelinating lesions of the spinal cord in EAE mice with significant gene silencing than the parent ASO. Importantly, systemic administration of Cd40-targeting Chol-HDO improved clinical signs of EAE with significant downregulation of Cd40 in Mg/Mφ. Furthermore, we successfully identify that macrophage scavenger receptor 1 (MSR1) is responsible for the uptake of Chol-HDO by Mg/Mφ of EAE mice. Overall, our findings demonstrate the therapeutic potency of systemically administered Chol-HDO to regulate activated Mg/Mφ in neuroinflammation.