The present study was intended to investigate the role of embryonic stem cell-derived exosomes (ESC-Exos) in Müller cell retrodifferentiation and their specific mechanism.
Following co-incubation of the extracted ESC-Exos and Müller cells, their effects on the retrodifferentiation and proliferation of Müller cells were measured by EdU staining, immunofluorescence, and western blot. ESCs transfected with small interfering RNA of BDNF were co-incubated with Müller cells to determine Müller cell proliferation and retrodifferentiation. β-catenin expression in the nucleus and GSK-3β phosphorylation were measured to determine the role of the Wnt pathway in Müller cells. The function of the retina in RCS rats was observed using flash electroretinogram.
Co-incubation of ESCs with Müller cells or overexpression of BDNF contributed to Müller cell retrodifferentiation and proliferation, as evidenced by increased cell proliferation, fluorescence intensities of proliferation markers and retinal stem cell markers, and expression of BDNF and β-catenin, and suppressed GSK-3β phosphorylation. However, co-incubation with ESCs silencing BDNF or treatment with GW4869 inhibited the proliferation and retrodifferentiation of retinal Müller cells. In addition, exosome injection increased BDNF, BrdU, PH3, SOX2, and Pax6 expression, enhanced β-catenin expression in the nucleus, diminished GSK-3β, and improved retinal degeneration in RCS rats.
ESC-Exos accelerated Müller cell retrodifferentiation and proliferation through Wnt pathway activation by delivering BDNF protein to Müller cells.