Authors: Parhiz H, Brenner JS, Patel PN, Papp TE, Li Q, Shi R

PMID: 34953981 PMCID: PMC8695324 DOI: 10.1016/j.jconrel.2021.12.027


Current nucleoside-modified RNA lipid nanoparticle (modmRNA-LNP) technology has successfully paved the way for the highest clinical efficacy data from next-generation vaccinations against SARS-CoV-2 during the COVID-19 pandemic. However, such modmRNA-LNP technology has not been characterized in common pre-existing inflammatory or immune-challenged conditions, raising the risk of adverse clinical effects when administering modmRNA-LNPs in such cases. Herein, we induce an acute-inflammation model in mice with lipopolysaccharide (LPS) intratracheally (IT), 1 mg kg-1, or intravenously (IV), 2 mg kg-1, and then IV administer modmRNA-LNP, 0.32 mg kg-1, after 4 h, and screen for inflammatory markers, such as pro-inflammatory cytokines. ModmRNA-LNP at this dose caused no significant elevation of cytokine levels in naive mice. In contrast, shortly after LPS immune stimulation, modmRNA-LNP enhanced inflammatory cytokine responses, Interleukin-6 (IL-6) in serum and Macrophage Inflammatory Protein 2 (MIP-2) in liver significantly. Our report identifies this phenomenon as inflammation exacerbation (IE), which was proven to be specific to the LNP, acting independent of mRNA cargo, and was demonstrated to be time- and dose-dependent. Macrophage depletion as well as TLR3 -/- and TLR4-/- knockout mouse studies revealed macrophages were the immune cells involved or responsible for IE. Finally, we show that pretreatment with anti-inflammatory drugs, such as corticosteroids, can partially alleviate IE response in mice. Our findings characterize the importance of LNP-mediated IE phenomena in gram negative bacterial inflammation, however, the generalizability of modmRNA-LNP in other forms of chronic or acute inflammatory and immune contexts needs to be addressed.

Keywords: Adverse effect; Inflammation; Lipid nanoparticle; Nanoparticle; Toxicity; mRNA