Treatment of Ischemic Neuronal Death by Introducing Brain-derived Neurotrophic Factor mRNA (Neuroscience)

Ischemic neuronal death causes serious lifelong neurological deficits; however, there is no proven effective treatment that can prevent neuronal death after the ischemia.

Now, Itaka and colleagues investigated the feasibility of mRNA therapeutics for preventing the neuronal death in a rat model of transient global ischemia (TGI). By intraventricular administration of mRNA encoding brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) using a polymer-based carrier, polyplex nanomicelle, they found that the mRNA significantly increased the survival rate of hippocampal neurons after TGI, with a rapid rise of BDNF in the hippocampus.

Interestingly, mRNA administration on Day 2 after TGI provided significantly better survival rate than the administration immediately after TGI. Eventually, dosing twice on Day 2 and 5 exerted long-term therapeutic effects, which were confirmed by a Y-maze behavioral test demonstrating improved spatial memory compared with untreated rats on Day 20.

Immunohistochemical analysis showed that astrocytes were chief targets of the BDNF mRNA-loaded nanomicelles, suggesting that the augmented BDNF secretion from astrocytes creates a supportive microenvironment for the neurons to tolerate changes caused by ischemic stresses, and terminate the process of progressive neuronal death after the ischemic attack. Overall, the unique mechanism of action of mRNA therapeutics provide a promising approach for preventing ischemic neuronal death.

Featured image: Yuta Fukushima and Keiji Itaka © TMDU

Reference: Yuta Fukushima, Satoshi Uchida, Hideaki Imai, Hirofumi Nakatomi, Kazunori Kataoka, Nobuhito Saito, Keiji Itaka, “Treatment of ischemic neuronal death by introducing brain-derived neurotrophic factor mRNA using polyplex nanomicelle”, Biomaterials, Volume 270, 2021, 120681, ISSN 0142-9612,

Provided by Tokyo Medical and Dental University

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