Functional siRNA Delivery by Extracellular Vesicle–Liposome Hybrid Nanoparticles

Martijn J. W. Evers, Simonides I. van de Wakker, Ellis M. de Groot, Olivier G. de Jong, Jerney J. J. Gitz-François, Cor S. Seinen, Joost P. G. Sluijter, Raymond M. Schiffelers, Pieter Vader

Published: 2021


The therapeutic use of RNA interference is limited by the inability of siRNA molecules to reach their site of action, the cytosol of target cells. Lipid nanoparticles, including liposomes, are commonly employed as siRNA carrier systems to overcome this hurdle, although their widespread use remains limited due to a lack of delivery efficiency. More recently, nature’s own carriers of RNA, extracellular vesicles (EVs), are increasingly being considered as alternative siRNA delivery vehicles due to their intrinsic properties. However, they are difficult to load with exogenous cargo. Here, EV–liposome hybrid nanoparticles (hybrids) are prepared and evaluated as an alternative delivery system combining properties of both liposomes and EVs. It is shown that hybrids are spherical particles encapsulating siRNA, contain EV-surface makers, and functionally deliver siRNA to different cell types. The functional behavior of hybrids, in terms of cellular uptake, toxicity, and gene-silencing efficacy, is altered as compared to liposomes and varies among recipient cell types. Moreover, hybrids produced with cardiac progenitor cell (CPC) derived-EVs retain functional properties attributed to CPC-EVs such as activation of endothelial signaling and migration. To conclude, hybrids combine benefits of both synthetic and biological drug delivery systems and might serve as future therapeutic carriers of siRNA.

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