DOI: 10.1161/circ.148.suppl_1.18413 ISSN: 0009-7322

Abstract 18413: Therapeutic Genome Editing of Endothelial FABP4 by Endothelium-Targeted Nanoparticle Delivery of the CRISPR/Cas9 System Inhibits Pulmonary Arterial Hypertension in Mice and Rats

Jingbo Dai, Yi Peng, Youyang Zhao
  • Physiology (medical)
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine

Introduction: Pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH) is a devastating disease characterized by progressive vasoconstriction and obliterative vascular remodeling. The molecular mechanisms of obliterative pulmonary vascular remodeling remain elusive.

Hypothesis: Therapeutic genome editing of endothelial Fabp4 will knockout FABP4 expression selectively in endothelial cells and inhibit PAH in mice and rats.

Methods: Employing the newly developed endothelial cell (EC)-targeted nanoparticle delivery technology, plasmid DNA expressing CRISPR/Cas9 controlled by Cdh5 promoter and Fabp4 -specific guide RNAs driven by U6 promoter was administered i.v. to adult SD rats and Egln1 Tie2Cre mice which exhibit severe PAH and obliterative pulmonary vascular remodeling. One week after nanoparticle administration, the rats were injected with a single dose of monocrotaline (MCT) to induce PAH. At 4 weeks post-MCT, right ventricular systolic pressure (RVSP), ratio of right ventricular versus left ventricular plus septum (RV/LV+S) and pulmonary vascular remodeling were determined. Pharmacological FABP4 inhibitor was also employed to treat MCT rats as a comparison. Similarly, the pulmonary hypertensive phenotype in genome-edited Egln1 Tie2Cre mice was also characterized.

Results: Nanoparticle delivery of the all-in-one CRISPR rCdh5 plasmid DNA knockout Fabp4 selectively in endothelial cells in adult rats and Egln1 Tie2Cre mice leading to reduced RVSP, RV hypertrophy and pulmonary vascular remodeling in MCT rats and also in Egln1 Tie2Cre mice. Obliterative pulmonary vascular remodeling seen in Egln1 Tie2Cre mice was inhibited and the mortality rate in endothelial Fabp4-deficient Egln1 Tie2Cre mice was reduced. Treatment of FABP4 inhibitor also inhibits PAH in MCT rats. We also observed a marked increase of FABP4 expression in endothelial cells of lung samples of IPAH patients. Overexpression of FABP4 in primary cultures of human lung microvascular endothelial cells resulted in a 70% increase of cell proliferation.

Conclusions: These findings demonstrate endothelial FABP4 is a promising target for PAH therapy. EC-targeted nanoparticle delivery of the genome editing system may represent an effective and safer gene therapy approach for PAH treatment.

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