Osteoarthritis (OA) is the most common joint disease worldwide. In the past decade, mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) have been used widely for the treatment of OA. A potential mechanism of MSC-based therapies has been attributed to the paracrine secretion of trophic factors, in which exosomes may play a major role. In this study, we aimed to compare the effectiveness of exosomes secreted by synovial membrane MSCs (SMMSC-Exos) and exosomes secreted by induced pluripotent stem cell-derived MSCs (iMSC-Exos) on the treatment of OA.
Induced pluripotent stem cell-derived MSCs and synovial membrane MSCs were characterized by flow cytometry. iMSC-Exos and SMMSC-Exos were isolated using an ultrafiltration method. Tunable resistive pulse-sensing analysis, transmission electron microscopy, and western blots were used to identify exosomes. iMSC-Exos and SMMSC-Exos were injected intra-articularly in a mouse model of collagenase-induced OA and the efficacy of exosome injections was assessed by macroscopic, histological, and immunohistochemistry analysis. We also evaluated the effects of iMSC-Exos and SMMSC-Exos on proliferation and migration of human chondrocytes by cell-counting and scratch assays, respectively.
The majority of iMSC-Exos and SMMSC-Exos were approximately 50–150 nm in diameter and expressed CD9, CD63, and TSG101. The injection of iMSC-Exos and SMMSC-Exos both attenuated OA in the mouse OA model, but iMSC-Exos had a superior therapeutic effect compared with SMMSC-Exos. Similarly, chondrocyte migration and proliferation were stimulated by both iMSC-Exos and SMMSC-Exos, with iMSC-Exos exerting a stronger effect.
The present study demonstrated that iMSC-Exos have a greater therapeutic effect on OA than SMMSC-Exos. Because autologous iMSCs are theoretically inexhaustible, iMSC-Exos may represent a novel therapeutic approach for the treatment of OA.