Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is an autoimmune disease that is currently incurable. Clinical practice has shown significant benefits of combined therapies for RA treatment. This study aims to develop and demonstrate an efficient triple therapy for RA in vitro and in vivo. Three anti-inflammatory agents, NF-κB decoy oligodeoxynucleotides (ODNs), gold nanorods (GNRs), and dexamethasone (DEX), were encapsulated into folate (FA) modified liposomes (FA-lip(DEX + GNRs/ODNs)). The FA-lip(DEX + GNRs/ODNs) showed favorable physicochemical properties and efficient intracellular uptake by inflamed macrophages. Combined with laser irradiation, FA-lip(DEX + GNRs/ODNs) greatly reduced the secretion of proinflammatory proteins and oxidative factors in vitro. In adjuvant-induced arthritis (AIA) mice, FA-lip(DEX + GNRs/ODNs) achieved prolonged and enhanced accumulation at inflamed paws. FA-lip(DEX + GNRs/ODNs) + laser treatment reduced clinical arthritis scores and serum cytokine levels and protected cartilage. In summary, the triple therapy demonstrated significantly enhanced anti-inflammatory efficacy and is a promising strategy to treat RA via combined anti-inflammatory mechanisms.
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