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  • Research article
  • Open Access

A nanoformulation of siRNA and its role in cancer therapy: In vitro and in vivo evaluation

  • 1,
  • 1Email author,
  • 1, 2,
  • 1 and
  • 1
Cellular & Molecular Biology LettersAn International Journal201218:43

  • Received: 1 July 2012
  • Accepted: 15 December 2012
  • Published:


Overexpression of anti-apoptotic Bcl-2 is often observed in a wide variety of human cancers. It prevents the induction of apoptosis in neoplastic cells and contributes to resistance to chemotherapy. RNA interference has emerged as an efficient and selective technique for gene silencing. The potential to use small interfering RNA (siRNA) as a therapeutic agent for the treatment of cancer has elicited a great deal of interest. However, insufficient cellular uptake and poor stability have limited its therapeutic applications. The purpose of this study was to prepare chitosan nanoparticles via ionic gelation of chitosan by tripolyphosphate for effective delivery of siRNA to silence the anti-apoptotic Bcl-2 gene in neoplastic cells. Chitosan nanoparticles loaded with siRNA were in the size range 190 to 340 nm with a polydispersive index ranging from 0.04 to 0.2. They were able to completely bind with siRNA, provide protection against nuclease degradation, and enhance the transfection. Cell culture studies revealed that nanoparticles with entrapped siRNA could efficiently silence the antiapoptotic Bcl-2 gene. Studies on Swiss albino mice showed that siRNA could be effectively delivered through nanoparticles. There was significant decrease in the tumor volume. Blocking the expression of anti-apoptotic Bcl-2 can enhance the sensitivity of cancerous cells to anti-cancer drugs and the apoptosis rate. Therefore, nanoformulations with siRNA can be promoted as an adjuvant therapy in combination with anti-cancer drugs.

Key words

  • Chitosan
  • RNA interference
  • siRNA
  • Bcl-2
  • Apoptosis
  • Cancer
  • Nanoformulation