We have developed a highly effective method for in vivo gene silencing in the spinal cord and dorsal root ganglia (DRG) by a cationic lipid facilitated delivery of synthetic, small interfering RNA (siRNA). A siRNA to the delta opioid receptor (DOR), or a mismatch RNA, was mixed with the transfection reagent, i-Fect™ (vehicle), and delivered as repeated daily bolus doses (0.5 μg to 4 μg) via implanted intrathecal catheter to the lumbar spinal cord of rats. Twenty-four hours after the last injection, rats were tested for antinociception by the DOR selective agonist, [D-Ala2, Glu4]deltorphin II (DELT), or the mu opioid receptor (MOR) selective agonist, [D-Ala2, N-Me-Phe4, Gly-ol5]enkephalin (DAMGO). Pretreatment with the siRNA, but not the mismatch RNA or vehicle alone, blocked DELT antinociception dose-dependently. The latter was concomitant with a reduction in the spinal immunoreactivity and receptor density of DOR, and in DOR transcripts in the lumbar DRG and spinal dorsal horn. Neither siRNA nor mismatch RNA pretreatment altered spinal immunoreactivity of MOR or antinociception by spinal DAMGO, and had no effect on the baseline thermal nociceptive threshold. The inhibition of function and expression of DOR by siRNA was reversed by 72 hr after the last RNA injection. The uptake of fluorescence-tagged siRNA was detected in both DRG and spinal cord. The low effective dose of siRNA/i-Fect™ complex reflects an efficient delivery of the siRNA to peripheral and spinal neurons, produced no behavioral signs of toxicity. This delivery method may be optimized for other gene targets.
- RNA interference
- Sensory neurons
- Spinal cord
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Molecular Medicine
- Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience
- Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine