Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland
Modulation of Inflammation and Regeneration in the Intervertebral Disc Using Enhanced Cell-Penetrating Peptides for MicroRNA Delivery.pdf (3.92 MB)

Modulation of inflammation and regeneration in the intervertebral disc using enhanced cell-penetrating peptides for microRNA delivery

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journal contribution
posted on 2024-04-30, 08:56 authored by Marcos N Barcellona, Tara Ni Neill, Fergal O'BrienFergal O'Brien, James E Dixon, Caroline CurtinCaroline Curtin, Conor BuckleyConor Buckley

Back pain is a global epidemiological and socioeconomic problem affecting up to 80% of people at some stage during their life and is often due to degeneration of the intervertebral disc (IVD). Therapies aimed at restoring the intradiscal space have predominantly focused on delivery of biomaterials, cells, or growth factors, among others, with variable degrees of success. While viral gene delivery strategies have emerged as promising therapeutic options in recent years, these approaches often have off-target effects and are associated with immunogenicity risks and other comorbidities. Consequently, nonviral methods have gained traction as potential avenues for gene delivery. Herein, enhanced cell-penetrating peptide (CPP) systems are used to deliver microRNAs in an in vitro and ex vivo model of disc degeneration. The data suggest that nanoparticle complexation of CPPs with (miR-221-inhibitor + miR-149-mimic) promotes protective effects in nucleus pulposus cells challenged with inflammatory cytokines TNF-α and IL-1β. Specifically, increases in matrix deposition, significant decreases in the secretion of an array of inflammatory cytokines, and decreased expression of matrix degradation enzymes MMP13 and ADAMTS5 are observed. These miR-CPP nanocomplexes can be further employed for targeting of the pericellular matrix space through homing, thus providing a promising approach for therapies of the intradiscal space. 


European Research Council (ERC) under the European Union's Horizon 2020 research and innovation program (grant agreement ERC-2019-CoG-864104; INTEGRATE)


Data Availability Statement

The data that support the findings of this study are openly available in [Zenodo] at [10.5281/zenodo.7774959], reference number [7774959].


The original article is available at

Published Citation

Barcellona MN. et al. Modulation of inflammation and regeneration in the intervertebral disc using enhanced cell-penetrating peptides for MicroRNA delivery. Adv. NanoBiomed Res.2024;2300112.

Publication Date

1 April 2024


  • Amber (Advanced Material & Bioengineering Research) Centre
  • Anatomy and Regenerative Medicine
  • Tissue Engineering Research Group (TERG)




  • Published Version (Version of Record)