Extracellular Vesicles Derived From Mesenchymal Stromal Cells: A Therapeutic Option in Respiratory Diseases?

Stem Cell Res Ther. 2016 Apr 14;7(1):53. doi: 10.1186/s13287-016-0317-0.


Extracellular vesicles (EVs) are plasma membrane-bound fragments released from several cell types, including mesenchymal stromal cells (MSCs), constitutively or under stimulation. EVs derived from MSCs and other cell types transfer molecules (such as DNA, proteins/peptides, mRNA, microRNA, and lipids) and/or organelles with reparative and anti-inflammatory properties to recipient cells. The paracrine anti-inflammatory effects promoted by MSC-derived EVs have attracted significant interest in the regenerative medicine field, including for potential use in lung injuries. In the present review, we describe the characteristics, biological activities, and mechanisms of action of MSC-derived EVs. We also review the therapeutic potential of EVs as reported in relevant preclinical models of acute and chronic respiratory diseases, such as pneumonia, acute respiratory distress syndrome, asthma, and pulmonary arterial hypertension. Finally, we discuss possible approaches for potentiating the therapeutic effects of MSC-derived EVs so as to enable use of this therapy in clinical practice.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Asthma / metabolism
  • Asthma / physiopathology
  • Asthma / therapy*
  • DNA / therapeutic use
  • Endocytosis
  • Extracellular Vesicles / chemistry
  • Extracellular Vesicles / transplantation*
  • Humans
  • Hypertension, Pulmonary / metabolism
  • Hypertension, Pulmonary / physiopathology
  • Hypertension, Pulmonary / therapy*
  • Lipids / therapeutic use
  • Lung Injury / metabolism
  • Lung Injury / physiopathology
  • Lung Injury / therapy*
  • Mesenchymal Stem Cells / chemistry*
  • Mesenchymal Stem Cells / metabolism
  • MicroRNAs / therapeutic use
  • Molecular Targeted Therapy
  • Pneumonia, Bacterial / metabolism
  • Pneumonia, Bacterial / physiopathology
  • Pneumonia, Bacterial / therapy*
  • Proteins / therapeutic use
  • RNA, Messenger / therapeutic use
  • Respiratory Distress Syndrome, Adult / metabolism
  • Respiratory Distress Syndrome, Adult / physiopathology
  • Respiratory Distress Syndrome, Adult / therapy*


  • Lipids
  • MicroRNAs
  • Proteins
  • RNA, Messenger
  • DNA