Antifibrotic effects and mechanisms of mesenchymal stem cell-derived exosomes in a systemic sclerosis mouse model: Possible contribution of miR-196b-5p.

 Aug 26, 2021

Publication: Journal of dermatological science

Systemic sclerosis (SSc) is a connective tissue disorder characterized by the development of fibrosis in the skin and internal organs. Increasing evidence suggests that mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) can be used to a treatment for fibrotic diseases. Recent studies have demonstrated that some of the biological effects of MSCs are due to the secretion of exosomes. However, the precise mechanisms underlying MSCs-derived exosomes in skin fibrosis are not well understood.

We aimed to elucidate the effect of MSCs-derived exosomes on skin fibrosis in SSc and the mechanism underlying their inhibitory action on fibrosis.

Exosome was collected from MSCs by ultracentrifugation method. We examined the suppressive effect of MSCs-derived exosome on skin fibrosis in bleomycin-induced SSc mouse model. Skin samples from the injected site were collected for further examination, and micro-RNA analysis of MSCs-derived exosome was performed.

Injection of MSCs-derived exosomes significantly inhibited bleomycin-induced dermal fibrosis in mice. MSCs-derived exosomes significantly reduced the amount of collagen and the number of α-SMA myofibroblasts and CD68 macrophages in lesional skin. They also reduced the expression of type I collagen and TGF-β receptor 1 in fibroblasts in vitro. Moreover, micro-RNA analysis revealed that several microRNAs in MSCs-derived exosomes have antifibrotic potential. We confirmed that overexpression of miR-196b-5p in fibroblasts significantly suppressed collagen type I alpha 2 expression.

This study demonstrated that inhibition of collagen type I expression by miR-196b-5p in exosomes might be one of the mechanisms by which MSCs suppress skin fibrosis in an SSc mouse model.