Liver metastasis is a leading cause of cancer morbidity and mortality. Thus, there has been strong interest in the development of therapeutics that can effectively prevent liver metastasis. One potential strategy is to utilize molecules that have broad effects on the liver microenvironment, such as miR-122, a liver-specific miRNA that is a key regulator of diverse hepatic functions. Here we report the development of a nanoformulation miR-122 as a therapeutic agent for preventing liver metastasis. We engineered a galactose-targeted lipid calcium phosphate (Gal-LCP) nanoformulation of miR-122. This nanotherapeutic elicited no significant toxicity and delivered miR-122 into hepatocytes with specificity and high efficiency. Across multiple colorectal cancer liver metastasis models, treatment with Gal-LCP miR-122 treatment effectively prevented colorectal cancer liver metastasis and prolonged survival. Mechanistic studies revealed that delivery of miR-122 was associated with downregulation of key genes involved in metastatic and cancer inflammation pathways, including several proinflammatory factors, matrix metalloproteinases, and other extracellular matrix degradation enzymes. Moreover, Gal-LCP miR-122 treatment was associated with an increased CD8+/CD4+ T-cell ratio and decreased immunosuppressive cell infiltration, which makes the liver more conducive to antitumor immune response. Collectively, this work presents a strategy to improve cancer prevention and treatment with nanomedicine-based delivery of miRNA.

Significance:

Highly specific and efficient delivery of miRNA to hepatocytes using nanomedicine has therapeutic potential for the prevention and treatment of colorectal cancer liver metastasis.

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