The use of nanoparticles to deliver nitric oxide to hepatic stellate cells for treating liver fibrosis and portal hypertension

Hien T T Duong, Zhixia Dong, Lin Su, Cyrille Boyer, Jacob George, Thomas P Davis, Jianhua Wang

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100 Citations (Scopus)


Polymeric nanoparticles are designed to transport and deliver nitric oxide (NO) into hepatic stellate cells (HSCs) for the potential treatment of both liver fibrosis and portal hypertension. The nanoparticles, incorporating NO donor molecules (S-nitrosoglutathione compound), are designed for liver delivery, minimizing systemic delivery of NO. The nanoparticles are decorated with vitamin A to specifically target HSCs. We demonstrate, using in vitro and in vivo experiments, that the targeted nanoparticles are taken up specifically by rat primary HSCs and the human HSC cell line accumulating in the liver. When nanoparticles, coated with vitamin A, release NO in liver cells, we find inhibition of collagen I and α-smooth muscle actin (α-SMA), fibrogenic genes associated with activated HSCs expression in primary rat liver and human activated HSCs without any obvious cytotoxic effects. Finally, NO-releasing nanoparticles targeted with vitamin A not only attenuate endothelin-1 (ET-1) which elicites HSC contraction but also acutely alleviates haemodynamic disorders in bile duct-ligated-induced portal hypertension evidenced by decreasing portal pressure (≈20%) and unchanging mean arterial pressure. This study clearly shows, for the first time, the potential for HSC targeted nanoparticle delivery of NO as a treatment for liver diseases with proven efficacy for alleviating both liver fibrosis and portal hypertension. Nanoparticles with a typical size of 35 nm are presented for the delivery of nitric oxide to hepatic stellate cells for the potential treatment of liver fibrosis and portal hypertension. The introduction of vitamin A on the nanoparticles surface allows to specifically target hepatic stellate cells. In vivo experiments, using rat models, demonstrate the accumulation of nanoparticles in liver.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2291-2304
Number of pages14
Issue number19
Publication statusPublished - 2015


  • drug delivery
  • medicine
  • nanoparticles
  • polymers

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