Reversible and Size-Selective Opening of the Inner Blood-Retina Barrier: A Novel Therapeutic Strategy
The inner Blood-Retina-barrier (iBRB) remains a key element in retarding the development of novel therapeutics for the treatment of many ocular disorders. The iBRB contains tight-junctions (TJ’s) which reduce the space between adjacent endothelial cells lining the fine capillaries of the retinal microvasculature to form a selective and regulatable barrier. We have recently shown that in mice, the iBRB can be transiently and size-selectively opened to molecules with molecular weights of up to approximately 1 kDa using an siRNA-mediated approach involving suppression of the tight junction protein, claudin-5. We have systemically delivered siRNA targeting claudin-5 to retinal capillary endothelial cells in mice and through a series of tracer experiments and magnetic-resonance-imaging (MRI), we have shown a transient and size-selective increase in permeability at the iBRB to molecules below 1 kDa. The potential to exploit this specific compromise in iBRB integrity may have far reaching implications for the development of experimental animal models of retinal degenerative disorders, and for enhanced delivery of therapeutic molecules which would normally not traverse the iBRB. Using RNAi-mediated opening of the iBRB, the systemic delivery of low molecular weight therapeutics could in principle, hold real promise as an alternative to repeated intraocular inoculation of compounds. Results demonstrated here in mouse models, should lead to a ‘humanized’ form of systemic delivery as opposed to the hydrodynamic approach used in our work to date.
KeywordsTight Junction Inner Nuclear Layer Blood Retinal Barrier Fine Capillary Adjacent Endothelial Cell
This work was supported by the Wellcome Trust, Fighting Blindness Ireland, and Science Foundation Ireland.
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