Rationale: Microvesicles (MVs) are anuclear fragments of cells released from the endosomal compartment or shed from surface membranes. We and other investigators demonstrated that MVs released by mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) were as effective as the cells themselves in inflammatory injuries, such as after endotoxin-induced acute lung injury. However, the therapeutic effects of MVs in an infectious model of acute lung injury remain unknown.
Objectives: We investigated the effects of human MSC MVs on lung inflammation, protein permeability, bacterial clearance, and survival after severe bacterial pneumonia.
Methods: We tested the effects of MVs derived from human MSCs on Escherichia coli pneumonia in mice. We also studied the interactions between MVs and human monocytes and human alveolar epithelial type 2 cells.
Measurements and main results: Administration of MVs derived from human MSCs improved survival in part through keratinocyte growth factor secretion and decreased the influx of inflammatory cells, cytokines, protein, and bacteria in mice injured with bacterial pneumonia. In primary cultures of human monocytes or alveolar type 2 cells, the uptake of MVs was mediated by CD44 receptors, which were essential for the therapeutic effects. MVs enhanced monocyte phagocytosis of bacteria while decreasing inflammatory cytokine secretion and increased intracellular ATP levels in injured alveolar epithelial type 2 cells. Prestimulation of MSCs with a toll-like receptor 3 agonist further enhanced the therapeutic effects of the released MVs.
Conclusions: MVs derived from human MSCs were as effective as the parent stem cells in severe bacterial pneumonia.
Keywords: acute respiratory distress syndrome; bacterial pneumonia; mesenchymal stem cells; microvesicles.