Rapamycin-Loaded Biomimetic Nanoparticles Reverse Vascular Inflammation

Christian Boada, Assaf Zinger, Christopher Tsao, Picheng Zhao, Jonathan O. Martinez, Kelly Hartman, Tomoyuki Naoi, Roman Sukhoveshin, Manuela Sushnitha, Roberto Molinaro, Barry H. Trachtenberg, John P. Cooke, Ennio Tasciotti

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

109 Scopus citations


RATIONALE: Through localized delivery of rapamycin via a biomimetic drug delivery system, it is possible to reduce vascular inflammation and thus the progression of vascular disease. OBJECTIVE: Use biomimetic nanoparticles to deliver rapamycin to the vessel wall to reduce inflammation in an in vivo model of atherosclerosis after a short dosing schedule. METHODS AND RESULTS: Biomimetic nanoparticles (leukosomes) were synthesized using membrane proteins purified from activated J774 macrophages. Rapamycin-loaded nanoparticles were characterized using dynamic light scattering and were found to have a diameter of 108±2.3 nm, a surface charge of -15.4±14.4 mV, and a polydispersity index of 0.11 +/ 0.2. For in vivo studies, ApoE-/- mice were fed a high-fat diet for 12 weeks. Mice were injected with either PBS, free rapamycin (5 mg/kg), or rapamycin-loaded leukosomes (Leuko-Rapa; 5 mg/kg) once daily for 7 days. In mice treated with Leuko-Rapa, flow cytometry of disaggregated aortic tissue revealed fewer proliferating macrophages in the aorta (15.6±9.79 %) compared with untreated mice (30.2±13.34 %) and rapamycin alone (26.8±9.87 %). Decreased macrophage proliferation correlated with decreased levels of MCP (monocyte chemoattractant protein)-1 and IL (interleukin)-b1 in mice treated with Leuko-Rapa. Furthermore, Leuko-Rapa-treated mice also displayed significantly decreased MMP (matrix metalloproteinases) activity in the aorta (mean difference 2554±363.9, P=9.95122×10-6). No significant changes in metabolic or inflammation markers observed in liver metabolic assays. Histological analysis showed improvements in lung morphology, with no alterations in heart, spleen, lung, or liver in Leuko-Rapa-treated mice. CONCLUSIONS: We showed that our biomimetic nanoparticles showed a decrease in proliferating macrophage population that was accompanied by the reduction of key proinflammatory cytokines and changes in plaque morphology. This proof-of-concept showed that our platform was capable of suppressing macrophage proliferation within the aorta after a short dosing schedule (7 days) and with a favorable toxicity profile. This treatment could be a promising intervention for the acute stabilization of late-stage plaques.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)25-37
Number of pages13
JournalCirculation Research
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 3 2020


  • atherosclerosis
  • biomimetic
  • drug delivery system
  • inflammation
  • macrophages

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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