Journal of Neuroimmune Pharmacology

, Volume 12, Issue 1, pp 107–119 | Cite as

Tailoring Lipid and Polymeric Nanoparticles as siRNA Carriers towards the Blood-Brain Barrier – from Targeting to Safe Administration

  • Maria João Gomes
  • Carlos Fernandes
  • Susana Martins
  • Fernanda Borges
  • Bruno Sarmento


Blood-brain barrier is a tightly packed layer of endothelial cells surrounding the brain that acts as the main obstacle for drugs enter the central nervous system (CNS), due to its unique features, as tight junctions and drug efflux systems. Therefore, since the incidence of CNS disorders is increasing worldwide, medical therapeutics need to be improved. Consequently, aiming to surpass blood-brain barrier and overcome CNS disabilities, silencing P-glycoprotein as a drug efflux transporter at brain endothelial cells through siRNA is considered a promising approach. For siRNA enzymatic protection and efficient delivery to its target, two different nanoparticles platforms, solid lipid (SLN) and poly-lactic-co-glycolic (PLGA) nanoparticles were used in this study. Polymeric PLGA nanoparticles were around 115 nm in size and had 50 % of siRNA association efficiency, while SLN presented 150 nm and association efficiency close to 52 %. Their surface was functionalized with a peptide-binding transferrin receptor, in a site-oriented manner confirmed by NMR, and their targeting ability against human brain endothelial cells was successfully demonstrated by fluorescence microscopy and flow cytometry. The interaction of modified nanoparticles with brain endothelial cells increased 3-fold compared to non-modified lipid nanoparticles, and 4-fold compared to non-modified PLGA nanoparticles, respectively. These nanosystems, which were also demonstrated to be safe for human brain endothelial cells, without significant cytotoxicity, bring a new hopeful breath to the future of brain diseases therapies.


Blood-brain barrier Functionalization Nanoparticles siRNA Targeting TfR-peptide 



This work was financed by European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) through the Programa Operacional Factores de Competitividade – COMPETE 2020 – Operacional Programme for Competitiveness and Internationalisation (POCI), Portugal 2020, and by Portuguese funds through FCT – Fundação para a Ciência e a Tecnologia/ Ministério da Ciência e Tecnologia e Inovação in the framework of the project “Institute for Research and Innovation in Health Sciences” (POCI-01-0145-FEDER-007274) and the project UID/BIM/04293/2013, and co-financed by North Portugal Regional Operational Programme (ON.2 – O Novo Norte) in the framework of project SAESCTN-PIIC&DT/2011, under the National Strategic Reference Framework (NSRF). Maria João Gomes and Carlos Fernandes gratefully acknowledge Fundação para a Ciência e a Tecnologia (FCT), Portugal, for financial support (grant SFRH/BD/90404/2012 and SFRH/BD/98519/2013, respectively). The authors would like to acknowledge all the help of Victória Leiro with the NMR experiments.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Supplementary material

11481_2016_9685_MOESM1_ESM.docx (193 kb)
ESM 1 (DOCX 192 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Maria João Gomes
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
  • Carlos Fernandes
    • 4
  • Susana Martins
    • 5
  • Fernanda Borges
    • 4
  • Bruno Sarmento
    • 1
    • 2
    • 6
  1. 1.i3S, Instituto de Investigação e Inovação em Saúde, Universidade do PortoPortoPortugal
  2. 2.INEB, Instituto de Engenharia Biomédica, Biocarrier Group, Universidade do PortoPortoPortugal
  3. 3.ICBAS, Instituto de Ciências Biomédicas Abel SalazarUniversidade do PortoPortoPortugal
  4. 4.CIQUP/Departamento de Química, Faculdade de CiênciasUniversidade do PortoPortoPortugal
  5. 5.Department of Physics, Chemistry and PharmacyUniversity of Southern DenmarkOdenseDenmark
  6. 6.Instituto de Investigação e Formação Avançada em Ciências e Tecnologias da SaúdeCESPUGandraPortugal

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