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Nanoparticles to Counteracts Chondrocyte De-Differentiation

et al. Raffaele Conte



The abnormal matrix remodeling process, as well as inflammation, angiogenesis, and tumor metastasis, are related to an increase in the synthesis and secretion of matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs), the zinc-dependent proteolytic endopeptidases.

Recent studies have evidenced MMPs’ role in osteoarthritis (OA) development, during which chondrocytes undergo hypertrophic differentiation and exhibit enhanced catabolism. The trait of OA is extracellular matrix (ECM) progressive degradation regulated by many factors, in which MMPs play an important role, which indicates them as potential therapeutic targets. Herein, a small interfering RNA (siRNA) delivery system able to suppress MMPs’ activity was synthetized. Results demonstrated that positively charged nanoparticles (AcPEI-NPs) complexed with MMP-2 siRNA are efficiently internalized by cells with endosomal escape.

Moreover, avoiding lysosome degradation, MMP2/AcPEI nanocomplex increases nucleic acid delivery efficiency. Gel zymography, RT-PCR, and ELISA analyses confirmed MMP2/AcPEI nanocomplex activity even when embedded within collagen matrix resembling the natural extracellular matrix. Further, the inhibition of in vitro collagen degradation exerts a protective effect on chondrocyte dedifferentiation.

The suppression of MMP-2 activity, preventing matrix degradation, protects chondrocytes against degeneration and supporting ECM homeostasis in articular cartilage. These encouraging results promote further investigation to validate the utilization of MMP-2 siRNA as ‘‘molecular switch’’ able to counteract osteoarthritis.


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