Endosomolytic and Tumor-Penetrating Mesoporous Silica Nanoparticles for siRNA/miRNA Combination Cancer Therapy

Yazhe Wang, Ying Xie, Kameron V. Kilchrist, Jing Li, Craig L. Duvall, David Oupický

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

108 Scopus citations


Combination therapies consisting of multiple short therapeutic RNAs, such as small interfering RNA (siRNA) and microRNA (miRNA), have enormous potential in cancer treatment as they can precisely silence a specific set of oncogenes and target multiple disease-related pathways. However, clinical use of siRNA/miRNA combinations is limited by the availability of safe and efficient systemic delivery systems with sufficient tumor penetrating and endosomal escaping capabilities. This study reports on the development of multifunctional tumor-penetrating mesoporous silica nanoparticles (iMSNs) for simultaneous delivery of siRNA (siPlk1) and miRNA (miR-200c), using encapsulation of a photosensitizer indocyanine green (ICG) to facilitate endosomal escape and surface conjugation of the iRGD peptide to enable deep tumor penetration. Increased cell uptake of the nanoparticles was observed in both 3D tumor spheroids in vitro and in orthotopic MDA-MB-231 breast tumors in vivo. Using a galectin-8 recruitment assay, we showed that reactive oxygen species generated by ICG upon light irradiation functioned as an endosomolytic stimulus that caused release of the siRNA/miRNA combination from endosomes. Co-delivery of the therapeutic RNAs displayed combined cell killing activity in cancer cells. Systemic intravenous treatment of metastatic breast cancer with the iMSNs loaded with siPlk1 and miR-200c resulted in a significant suppression of the primary tumor growth and in marked reduction of metastasis upon short light irradiation of the primary tumor. This work demonstrates that siRNA-miRNA combination assisted by the photodynamic effect and tumor penetrating delivery system may provide a promising approach for metastatic cancer treatment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)4308-4322
Number of pages15
JournalACS Applied Materials and Interfaces
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jan 29 2020


  • iRGD
  • mesoporous silica nanoparticle
  • metastasis
  • photodynamic effect
  • siRNA-miRNA combination
  • tumor penetration

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Materials Science


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