Kerstin Abshagen, Malte Brensel, Berit Genz, Kira Roth, Maria Thomas, Volker Fehring, Ute Schaeper and Brigitte Vollmar Pages 215 - 227 ( 13 )
Activation of hepatic stellate cells (HSCs) is a key event in pathogenesis of liver fibrosis and represents an orchestral interplay of inhibiting and activating transcription factors like forkhead box f1 (Foxf1), being described to stimulate pro-fibrogenic genes in HSCs. Here, we evaluated a lipidbased liver-specific delivery system (DBTC) suitable to transfer Foxf1 siRNA specifically to HSCs and examined its antifibrotic potential on primary HSCs and LX-2 cells as well as in a murine model of bile duct ligation (BDL)-induced secondary cholestasis. Foxf1 silencing reduced proliferation capacity and attenuated contractility of HSCs. Systemic administration of DBTC-lipoplexes in mice was sufficient to specifically silence genes expressed in different liver cell types. Using intravital and immunofluorescence microscopy we confirmed the specific delivery of Cy3-labeled DBTC to the liver, and particularly to HSCs. Repeated treatment with DBTC-lipoplexes resulted in siRNA-mediated silencing of Foxf1 early after BDL and finally attenuated progression of the fibrotic process. Decreased HSC activation in-effect ameliorated liver injury as shown by substantial reduction of necrotic area and deposition of extracellular matrix. Our findings suggest that Foxf1 may serve as a target gene to disrupt progression of liver fibrosis and DBTC might provide a potentially feasible and effective tool for HSC-specific delivery of therapeutic RNA.
Cholestasis, chronic liver disease, intravital microscopy, lipoplex, mouse, silencing.
Institute for Experimental Surgery, Rostock University Medical Center, Schillingallee 69a, 18057 Rostock, Germany. kerstin.