Drug Repositioning of Metformin Encapsulated in PLGA Combined with Photothermal Therapy Ameliorates Rheumatoid Arthritis


Dae Kyu Kim, Jun Young Park, Youn Joo Kang*, Dongwoo Khang*

Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a highly prevalent form of autoimmune disease that affects nearly 1% of the global population by causing severe cartilage damage and inflammation. Despite its prevalence, previous efforts to prevent the perpetuation of RA have been hampered by therapeutics’ cytotoxicity and poor delivery to target cells. The present study exploited drug repositioning and nanotechnology to convert metformin, a widely used antidiabetic agent, into an anti-rheumatoid arthritis drug by designing poly(lactic-co-glycolic acid) (PLGA)-based spheres. Moreover, this study also explored the thermal responsiveness of the IL-22 receptor, a key regulator of Th-17, to incorporate photothermal therapy (PTT) into the nanodrug treatment.
The encapsulation of metformin into PLGA allowed the nanodrug to enter the target cells via macropinocytosis and clathrin-mediated endocytosis. Metformin-encapsulated PLGA (PLGA-MET) demonstrated promising anti-inflammatory effects by decreasing the expression of pro-inflammatory cytokines (IL-1β, IL-6, and TNF-α), increasing the expression of anti-inflammatory cytokines (IL-10 and IL-4), and promoting the polarization of M1 to M2 macrophages in J774 cells. The treatment of the nanodrug with PTT exhibited more potent anti-inflammatory effects than free metformin or PLGA-MET in CIA mice models.
These results demonstrated that PLGA-encapsulated metformin treatment with PTT can effectively ameliorate inflammation in a spatiotemporal manner.