Perspectives of using microRNA-loaded nanocarriers for epigenetic reprogramming of drug resistant colorectal cancers

Olga Sukocheva, Junqi Liu, Margarita E. Neganova, Narasimha M. Beeraka, Yulia Aleksandrova, Prasath Manogaran, Ekaterina M. Grigorevskikh, Vladimir N. Chubarev, Ruitai Fan

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)


Epigenetic regulation by microRNAs (miRs) demonstrated a promising therapeutic potential of these molecules to regulate genetic activity in different cancers, including colorectal cancers (CRCs). The RNA-based therapy does not change genetic codes in tumor cells but can silence oncogenes and/or reactivate inhibited tumor suppressor genes. In many cancers, specific miRs were shown to promote or stop tumor progression. Among confirmed and powerful epigenetic regulators of colon carcinogenesis and development of resistance are onco-miRs, which include let-7, miR-21, miR-22, miR-23a, miR-27a, miR-34, miR-92, miR-96, miR-125b, miR-135b, miR-182, miR-200c, miR-203, miR-221, miR-421, miR-451, and others. Moreover, various tumor-suppressor miRs (miR-15b-5b, miR-18a, miR-20b, miR-22, miR-96, miR-139-5p, miR-145, miR-149, miR-197, miR-199b, miR-203, miR-214, miR-218, miR-320, miR-375-3p, miR-409-3p, miR-450b-5p, miR-494, miR-577, miR-874, and others) were found silenced in drug-resistant CRCs. Re-expression of tumor suppressor miR is complicated by the chemical nature of miRs that are not long-lasting compounds and require protection from the enzymatic degradation. Several recent studies explored application of miRs using nanocarrier complexes. This study critically describes the most successfully tested nanoparticle complexes used for intracellular delivery of nuclear acids and miRs, including micelles, liposomes, inorganic and polymeric NPs, dendrimers, and aptamers. Nanocarriers shield incorporated miRs and improve the agent stability in circulation. Attachment of antibodies and/or specific peptide or ligands facilitates cell-targeted miR delivery. Addressing in vivo challenges, a broad spectrum of non-toxic materials has been tested and indicated reliable advantages of lipid-based (lipoplexes) and polymer-based liposomes. Recent cutting-edge developments indicated that lipid-based complexes with multiple cargo, including several miRs, are the most effective approach to eradicate drug-resistant tumors. Focusing on CRC-specific miRs, this review provides a guidance and insights towards the most promising direction to achieve dramatic reduction in tumor growth and metastasis using miR-nanocarrier complexes.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)358-375
Number of pages18
Issue numberPart 2
Early online date24 May 2022
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2022


  • Epigenetics
  • MicroRNAs
  • Nanoparticles
  • lipoplexes
  • nanocarriers
  • Cancer


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