Nanostructures to Modulate Vascular Inflammation: Multifunctional Nanoparticles for Quantifiable siRNA Delivery and Molecular Imaging

Date of Award

Spring 5-15-2010

Author's Department

Biomedical Engineering

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Degree Type



Early steps in the progression of inflammatory diseases such as atherosclerosis involve the recruitment of leukocytes to the vascular endothelium through the expression or up-regulation of adhesion molecules. These adhesion molecules are critical mediators of leukocyte attachment and subsequent extravasation through transendothelial migration. One of these adhesion molecules, vascular cell adhesion molecule-1 (VCAM-1) is particularly attractive as a marker of early atherosclerotic activity due to its low expression level on normal endothelium and up-regulation prior to and during the development of early lesions. With this in mind, the purpose of this thesis was to develop nanostructures for the detection and down-regulation of adhesion molecules by the vascular endothelium. To detect early inflammation we designed a perfluorocarbon nanoparticle (PFC-NP) probe, which was used for in vivo targeting of VCAM-1. Nanoparticles were detected ex vivo by the magnetic resonance (MR) signature from the fluorine core of the particle. Nanoparticles accumulated in tissues characterized by early inflammatory processes. To down-regulate VCAM-1 expression by vascular endothelial cells, cationic PFC-NP were produced through the addition of the cationic lipid 1,2- Dioleoyl-3-Trimethylammonium-Propane. Cationic PFC-NP were able to deliver antiVCAM-1 siRNA to endothelial cells through a non-standard lipid raft mediated endocytic pathway. VCAM-1 levels were significantly reduced in treated cells indicating that this delivery mechanism may be advantageous for delivery of cargo into the cytoplasm. Using the fluorine signature from the core of the cationic PFC-NP, we were able to quantify and localize this siRNA delivery agent both in vitro and in vivo. The ability to quantify the local concentrations of these particles could be of great benefit for estimating local drug concentrations and developing new pharmacokinetic and pharmacodynamic paradigms to describe this new class of nucleotide agents.


English (en)


Samuel A Wickline

Committee Members

Rohit Pappu, Shelly Sakiyama-Elbert, Younan Xia


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