Therapeutic potential of an immunosuppressive oligodeoxynucleotide encapsulated within liposomes on bleomycin-induced mouse model of lung inflammation and fibrosis
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Systemic sclerosis (SSc) is an autoimmune/autoinflammatory disease with unknown etiology. It is characterized by vascular dysfunction, inflammation and disseminated fibrosis of skin or internal organs. Although its prevalence is low, development of fibrosis on internal organs and lack of a curative treatment result in high morbidity. Current therapies targeting specific symptoms such as interstitial lung disease, Raynaud’s phenomenon and pulmonary arterial hypertension are inefficient, and at best, temporarily relieves the symptoms throughout the course of the treatment. Herein, we investigated the therapeutic potential of an immunosuppressive oligodeoxynucleotide expressing TTAGGG telomeric repeats which is known as the “A151 ODN” on bleomycin-induced mouse model of systemic sclerosis. A151 ODN is the single stranded synthetic form of the telomeric repeat sequence expressed on mammalian chromosome, and it contains four repeats of “TTAGGG” motif. In order to enhance the therapeutic effectivity while protecting its digestion from nuclease activity following administration, we encapsulated A151 ODN within anionic liposomes. Since pattern recognition receptors and their signaling pathways were demonstrated to initiate inflammation in SSc, we first explored the immunosuppressive capacity of A151 ODN by analyzing in vitro cytokine productions and surface marker expression levels. Similar with the previous findings, A151 ODN was highly potent to abolish cytokine production in response to TLR9 induction. Although A151 ODN by itself was not very effective to suppress cytokine secretion following TLR1/2 and TLR4 induction, encapsulation within anionic liposomes further improved the immunosuppressive potential in response to TLR engagement. Furthermore, flow cytometry analyses revealed that A151 ODN decreased antigen presentation capacity and activation of bone-marrow derived macrophages (BMDMs) in response to TLR stimulation which was demonstrated by the reduction in levels of surface MHCII and co-stimulatory molecules as well as proteins having role on macrophage adherence and migration. A151 ODN also inhibited transcription of two major genes known to play a critical role on the development of fibrosis, TGFβ and Col1a1, from fibroblasts. Following these promising results on A151 ODN’s immunosuppressive and anti-fibrotic potential, we tested its therapeutic role on bleomycin-induced lung inflammation and fibrosis on mice which reflects different phases of systemic sclerosis. First in vivo experiment that A151 ODN was used prior to bleomycin administration revealed that A151 ODN could prevent development of systemic sclerosis by reducing immune cell recruitment into alveolar space and suppressing the secretion of inflammatory cytokines. After that, we investigated if A151 ODN could abolish established lung inflammation triggered by bleomycin instillation. For that, we treated animals with an A151 ODN either in free form or encapsulated within anionic liposomes after lung inflammation was initiated following bleomycin instillation. Data indicated that A151 ODN reduced macrophage activation marker expressions, monocyte and neutrophil infiltration into alveolar space. Moreover, suppression on immune cells activation in bronchoalveolar lavage fluid (BALF) correlated with the inhibited cytokine production. As a result of reduced inflammation, pro-fibrotic gene expressions were less in A151 ODN-treated mice. Of note, liposomal encapsulation provided reduced gene expressions while failed to further enhance the immunosuppressive potential on surface marker expression or cytokine secretion of A151 ODN. Lastly, we tested whether treatment with liposome-encapsulated A151 ODN is still effective to regress fibrosis once it has been developed; therefore, we treated mice with single injection of liposomal A151 on different time points. Unfortunately, single instillation was insufficient to decrease fibrosis and macrophage activation as well as cytokine production. Taken together, our findings indicated that liposome-encapsulated A151 ODN is very potent to attenuate the lung inflammation whereas single injection was ineffective to regress established lung fibrosis.