Construction of an Aptamer–SiRNA Chimera-Modified Tissue-Engineered Blood Vessel for Cell-Type-Specific Capture and Delivery

The application of tissue-engineered blood vessels (TEBVs) is the main developmental direction of vascular replacement therapy. Due to few and/or dysfunctional endothelial progenitor cells (EPCs), it is difficult to successfully construct EPC capture TEBVs in diabetes. RNA has a potential application in cell protection and diabetes treatment, but poor specificity and low efficiency of RNA transfection in vivo limit the application of RNA. On the basis of an acellular vascular matrix, we propose an aptamer–siRNA chimera-modified TEBV that can maintain a satisfactory patency in diabetes. This TEBV consists of two parts, CD133-adenosine kinase (ADK) chimeras and a TEBV scaffold. Our results showed that CD133-ADK chimeras could selectively capture the CD133-positive cells in vivo, and then captured cells can internalize the bound chimeras to achieve RNA self-transfection. Subsequently, CD133-ADK chimeras were cut into ADK siRNA by a dicer, resulting in depletion of ADK. An ADK-deficient cell may act as a bioreactor that sustainably releases adenosine. To reduce nonspecific RNA transfection, we increased the proportion of HAuCl4 during the material preparation, through which the transfection capacity of polyethylenimine (PEI)/polyethylene glycol (PEG)-capped gold nanoparticles (PEI/PEG-AuNPs) was significantly decreased and the ability of TEBV to resist tensile and liquid shear stress was greatly enhanced. PEG and 2′-O-methyl modification was used to enhance the in vivo stability of RNA chimeras. At day 30 postgrafting, the patency rate of CD133-ADK chimera-modified TEBVs reached 90% in diabetic rats and good endothelialization was observed.