Biodegradable synthetic high-density lipoprotein nanoparticles for atherosclerosis

Sean Marrache, Shanta Dhar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

88 Scopus citations


Atherosclerosis remains one of the most common causes of death in the United States and throughout the world because of the lack of early detection. Macrophage apoptosis is a major contributor to the instability of atherosclerotic lesions. Development of an apoptosis targeted high-density lipoprotein (HDL)-mimicking nanoparticle (NP) to carry contrast agents for early detection of vulnerable plaques and the initiation of preventative therapies that exploit the vascular protective effects of HDL can be attractive for atherosclerosis. Here, we report the construction of a synthetic, biodegradable HDL-NP platform for detection of vulnerable plaques by targeting the collapse of mitochondrial membrane potential that occurs during apoptosis. This HDL mimic contains a core of biodegradable poly(lactic-co-glycolic acid), cholesteryl oleate, and a phospholipid bilayer coat that is decorated with triphenylphosphonium (TPP) cations for detection of mitochondrial membrane potential collapse. The lipid layer provides the surface for adsorption of apolipoprotein (apo) A-I mimetic 4F peptide, and the core contains diagnostically active quantum dots (QDs) for optical imaging. In vitro uptake, detection of apoptosis, and cholesterol binding studies indicated promising detection ability and therapeutic potential of TPP-HDL-apoA-I-QD NPs. In vitro studies indicated the potential of these NPs in reverse cholesterol transport. In vivo biodistribution and pharmacokinetics indicated favorable tissue distribution, controlled pharmacokinetic parameters, and significant triglyceride reduction for i.v.-injected TPP-HDL-apoA-I-QD NPs in rats. These HDL NPs demonstrate excellent biocompatibility, stability, nontoxic, and nonimmunogenic properties, which prove to be promising for future translation in early plaque diagnosis and might find applications to prevent vulnerable plaque progression.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)9445-9450
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number23
StatePublished - Jun 4 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • Atheroprotection
  • Coronary heart disease
  • Diabetes
  • Good cholesterol
  • Obesity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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