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Sustained miRNA delivery from an injectable hydrogel promotes cardiomyocyte proliferation and functional regeneration after ischaemic injury


MicroRNA-based therapies that target cardiomyocyte proliferation have great potential for the treatment of myocardial infarction. In previous work, we showed that the miR-302/367 cluster regulates cardiomyocyte proliferation in the prenatal and postnatal heart. Here, we describe the development and application of an injectable hyaluronic acid hydrogel for the local and sustained delivery of miR-302 mimics to the heart. We show that the miR-302 mimics released in vitro promoted cardiomyocyte proliferation over one week, and that a single injection of the hydrogel in the mouse heart led to local and sustained cardiomyocyte proliferation for two weeks. After myocardial infarction, gel–miR-302 injection caused local clonal proliferation and increased cardiomyocyte numbers in the border zone of a Confetti mouse model. Gel–miR-302 further decreased cardiac end-diastolic (39%) and end-systolic (50%) volumes, and improved ejection fraction (32%) and fractional shortening (64%) four weeks after myocardial infarction and injection, compared with controls. Our findings suggest that biomaterial-based miRNA delivery systems can lead to improved outcomes via cardiac regeneration after myocardial infarction.

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The authors thank C. Loebel for assistance with manuscript revisions, C. Chen, C. Venkataraman, A. Trubelja, S. Zaman, J. Gordon and F. Arisi for assistance with mouse surgeries and histology, J. Galarraga and C. Rodell for material contribution and helpful discussion, S. Schultz of the Penn Small Animal Imaging Facility for assistance with echocardiography, and the Penn Histology and Gene Expression Core. This work was made possible by financial support from the American Heart Association through an established investigator award (J.A.B.) and predoctoral fellowship (L.L.W.), and the National Institutes of Health (F30 HL134255, UO1 HL100405, U01 HL134745).

Author information

L.L.W. and Y.L. contributed equally to this work. L.L.W., Y.L., E.E.M. and J.A.B. conceived the ideas and designed the experiments. L.L.W., Y.L., J.J.C., T.W., A.C.G., M.L., C.A.C., S.Z. and R.K. conducted the experiments and analysed the data. L.L.W., Y.L., P.A., E.E.M. and J.A.B. interpreted the data and wrote the manuscript. All authors have given approval to the final version of the manuscript.

Competing interests

Provisional patents concerning the technology described in this work have been filed.

Correspondence to Edward E. Morrisey or Jason A. Burdick.

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Further reading

Fig. 1: Hydrogel assembly and miR-302 interactions.
Fig. 2: In vitro cardiomyocyte proliferation.
Fig. 3: In vivo cardiomyocyte proliferation.
Fig. 4: Gel–miR-302-induced clonal expansion in vivo.
Fig. 5: Clonal expansion of Confetti-labelled cardiomyocytes in mice.
Fig. 6: Hydrogel and miR-302 retention in mouse hearts.
Fig. 7: Functional outcomes after MI in adult mice.