Nanoparticle-Mediated RNA Therapy Attenuates Nonalcoholic Steatohepatitis and Related Fibrosis by Targeting Activated Hepatic Stellate Cells

Chenshuang Zhang, Yilong Teng, Fengqiao Li, William Ho, Xin Bai, Xiaoyang Xu, Xue Qing Zhang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Chronic liver injury and inflammation triggered by metabolic abnormalities initiate the activation of hepatic stellate cells (HSCs), driving fibrosis and parenchymal dysfunction, culminating in disorders such as nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH). Unfortunately, there are currently no approved drugs capable of effectively treating NASH due to the challenges in addressing fibrosis and restoring extracellular matrix (ECM) homeostasis. We discovered a significant up-regulation of interleukin-11 (IL-11) in fibrotic livers using two well-established murine models of NASH. To leverage this signaling pathway, we developed a nanoparticle (NP)-assisted RNA interfering approach that specifically targets activated HSCs (aHSCs), blocking IL-11/ERK signaling to regulate HSC transdifferentiation along with fibrotic remodeling. The most potent NP, designated NP-AEAA, showed enhanced accumulation in fibrotic livers with NASH and was primarily enriched in aHSCs. We further investigated the therapeutic efficacy of aHSC-targeting NP-AEAA encapsulating small interfering RNA (siRNA) against IL11 or its cognate receptor IL11ra1 (termed siIL11@NP-AEAA or siIL11ra1@NP-AEAA, respectively) for resolving fibrosis and NASH. Our results demonstrate that both siIL11@NP-AEAA and siIL11ra1@NP-AEAA effectively inhibit HSC activation and resolve fibrosis and inflammation in two well-established murine models of NASH. Notably, siIL11ra1@NP-AEAA exhibits a superior therapeutic effect over siIL11@NP-AEAA, in terms of reducing liver steatosis and fibrosis as well as recovering liver function. These results constitute a targeted nanoparticulate siRNA therapeutic approach against the IL-11 signaling pathway of aHSCs in the fibrotic liver, offering a promising therapeutic intervention for NASH and other diseases.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)14852-14870
Number of pages19
JournalACS Nano
Issue number15
StatePublished - Aug 8 2023

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Materials Science
  • General Engineering
  • General Physics and Astronomy


  • IL-11 signaling
  • activated HSC-targeted nanoparticles
  • liver fibrosis
  • nonalcoholic steatohepatitis
  • targeted delivery of RNA-based therapeutics


Dive into the research topics of 'Nanoparticle-Mediated RNA Therapy Attenuates Nonalcoholic Steatohepatitis and Related Fibrosis by Targeting Activated Hepatic Stellate Cells'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this