• Authors: Cubillos-Ruiz, J. R., Engle, X., Scarlett, U. K., Martinez, D., Barber, A., Elgueta, R., Wang, L., Nesbeth, Y., Durant, Y., Gewirtz, A. T., Sentman, C. L., Kedl, R., Conejo-Garcia, J. R.
  • Year: 2009
  • Journal: J Clin Invest 119 2231-44
  • Applications: in vivo / siRNA / in vivo-jetPEI


50 µg siRNA complexed with in vivo-jetPEI at N/P=6 were injected IP into mice to target peritoneal tumor.


The success of clinically relevant immunotherapies requires reversing tumor-induced immunosuppression. Here we demonstrated that linear polyethylenimine-based (PEI-based) nanoparticles encapsulating siRNA were preferentially and avidly engulfed by regulatory DCs expressing CD11c and programmed cell death 1-ligand 1 (PD-L1) at ovarian cancer locations in mice. PEI-siRNA uptake transformed these DCs from immunosuppressive cells to efficient antigen-presenting cells that activated tumor-reactive lymphocytes and exerted direct tumoricidal activity, both in vivo and in situ. PEI triggered robust and selective TLR5 activation in vitro and elicited the production of hallmark TLR5-inducible cytokines in WT mice, but not in Tlr5-/- littermates. Thus, PEI is a TLR5 agonist that, to our knowledge, was not previously recognized. In addition, PEI-complexed nontargeting siRNA oligonucleotides stimulated TLR3 and TLR7. The nonspecific activation of multiple TLRs (specifically, TLR5 and TLR7) reversed the tolerogenic phenotype of human and mouse ovarian tumor-associated DCs. In ovarian carcinoma-bearing mice, this induced T cell-mediated tumor regression and prolonged survival in a manner dependent upon myeloid differentiation primary response gene 88 (MyD88; i.e., independent of TLR3). Furthermore, gene-specific siRNA-PEI nanocomplexes that silenced immunosuppressive molecules on mouse tumor-associated DCs elicited discernibly superior antitumor immunity and enhanced therapeutic effects compared with nontargeting siRNA-PEI nanocomplexes. Our results demonstrate that the intrinsic TLR5 and TLR7 stimulation of siRNA-PEI nanoparticles synergizes with the gene-specific silencing activity of siRNA to transform tumor-infiltrating regulatory DCs into DCs capable of promoting therapeutic antitumor immunity.