Repositioning the antihistamine ebastine as an intracellular siRNA delivery enhancer

Cristina Muntean, Eva Blondeel, Laure Harinck, Kunal Pednekar, Jai Prakash, Olivier De Wever, Jeanne Leblond Chain, Stefaan C. De Smedt, Katrien Remaut, Koen Raemdonck*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)
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Small interfering RNAs (siRNAs) are promising therapeutics for the treatment of human diseases via the induction of sequence-specific gene silencing. To be functional, siRNAs require cytosolic delivery into target cells. However, state-of-the-art delivery systems mediate cellular entry through endocytosis and suffer from ineffective endosomal escape, routing a substantial fraction of the siRNA towards the lysosomal compartment. Cationic amphiphilic drugs (CADs) have been described to improve cytosolic siRNA delivery by the transient induction of lysosomal membrane permeabilization. In this work, we evaluated ebastine, an antihistamine CAD, for its ability to enhance cytosolic release of siRNA in a non-small cell lung cancer model. In particular, we demonstrated that ebastine can improve the siRNA-mediated gene silencing efficiency of a polymeric nanogel by 40-fold, outperforming other CAD compounds. Additionally, ebastine substantially enhanced gene knockdown of a cholesterol-conjugated siRNA, in two-dimensional (2D) cell culture as well as in three-dimensional (3D) tumor spheroids. Finally, ebastine could strongly promote siRNA delivery of lipid nanoparticles (LNPs) composed of a pH-dependent switchable ionizable lipid and with stable PEGylation, in contrast to state-of-the-art LNP formulations. Altogether, we identified ebastine as a potent and versatile siRNA delivery enhancer in cancer cells, which offers opportunities for drug combination therapy in oncology.

Original languageEnglish
Article number123348
JournalInternational journal of pharmaceutics
Early online date24 Aug 2023
Publication statusPublished - 25 Sept 2023


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