Antisense oligonucleotide (ASO)-mediated exon skipping has been feasible and promising approach for treating Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD) in preclinical and clinical trials, but its therapeutic applications remain challenges due to inefficient delivery.
We investigated a few Saponins for their potential to improve delivery performance of an antisense 2′-Omethyl phosphorothioate RNA (2′-OMePS) in muscle cells and in dystrophic mdx mice. This study was carried out by evaluating these Saponins’ toxicity, cellular uptake, transduction efficiency in vitro, and local delivery in vivo for 2′-OMePS, as well as affinity study between Saponin and 2′-OMePS.
The results showed that these Saponins, especially Digitonin and Tomatine, enhance the delivery of 2′-OMePS with comparable efficiency to Lipofectamine 2k (LF-2k) -mediated delivery in vitro. Significant performance was further observed in mdx mice, up to 10-fold with the Digitonin as compared to 2′-OMePS alone. Cytotoxicity of the Digitonin and Glycyrrhizin was much lower than LF-2k in vitro and not clearly detected in vivo under the tested concentrations.