Aims: Naturally secreted nanovesicles known as exosomes are required for the regenerative effects of cardiosphere-derived cells (CDCs), and exosomes mimic the benefits of CDCs in rodents. Nevertheless, exosomes have not been studied in a translationally realistic large-animal model. We sought to optimize delivery and assess the efficacy of CDC-secreted exosomes in pig models of acute (AMI) and convalescent myocardial infarction (CMI).
Methods and results: In AMI, pigs received human CDC exosomes (or vehicle) by intracoronary (IC) or open-chest intramyocardial (IM) delivery 30 min after reperfusion. No-reflow area and infarct size (IS) were assessed histologically at 48 h. Intracoronary exosomes were ineffective, but IM exosomes decreased IS from 80 ± 5% to 61 ± 12% (P= 0.001) and preserved left ventricular ejection fraction (LVEF). In a randomized placebo-controlled study of CMI, pigs 4 weeks post-myocardial infarction (MI) underwent percutaneous IM delivery of vehicle (n = 6) or CDC exosomes (n = 6). Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) performed before and 1 month after treatment revealed that exosomes (but not vehicle) preserved LV volumes and LVEF (−0.1 ± 2.2% vs. −5.4 ± 3.6%, P= 0.01) while decreasing scar size. Histologically, exosomes decreased LV collagen content and cardiomyocyte hypertrophy while increasing vessel density.
Conclusion: Cardiosphere-derived cell exosomes delivered IM decrease scarring, halt adverse remodelling and improve LVEF in porcine AMI and CMI. While conceptually attractive as cell-free therapeutic agents for myocardial infarction, exosomes have the disadvantage that IM delivery is necessary.