Therapeutic Potential of Mesenchymal Stem Cell-Derived Exosomes in the Treatment of Eye Diseases

Adv Exp Med Biol. 2018:1089:47-57. doi: 10.1007/5584_2018_219.


Mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) were, due to their immunomodulatory and pro-angiogenic characteristics, extensively explored as new therapeutic agents in cell-based therapy of uveitis, glaucoma, retinal and ocular surface diseases.Since it was recently revealed that exosomes play an important role in biological functions of MSCs, herewith we summarized current knowledge about the morphology, structure, phenotype and functional characteristics of MSC-derived exosomes emphasizing their therapeutic potential in the treatment of eye diseases.MSC-derived exosomes were as efficient as transplanted MSCs in limiting the extent of eye injury and inflammation. Immediately after intravitreal injection, MSC-derived exosomes, due to nano-dimension, diffused rapidly throughout the retina and significantly attenuated retinal damage and inflammation. MSC-derived exosomes successfully delivered trophic and immunomodulatory factors to the inner retina and efficiently promoted survival and neuritogenesis of injured retinal ganglion cells. MSC-derived exosomes efficiently suppressed migration of inflammatory cells, attenuated detrimental Th1 and Th17 cell-driven immune response and ameliorated experimental autoimmune uveitis. MSC-derived exosomes were able to fuse with the lysosomes within corneal cells, enabling delivering of MSC-derived active β-glucuronidase and consequent catabolism of accumulated glycosaminoglycans, indicating their therapeutic potential in the treatment of Mucopolysaccharidosis VII (Sly Syndrome). Importantly, beneficent effects were noticed only in animals that received MSC-derived exosomes and were not seen after therapy with fibroblasts-derived exosomes confirming specific therapeutic potential of MSCs and their products in the treatment of eye diseases.In conclusion, MSC-derived exosomes represent potentially new therapeutic agents in the therapy of degenerative and inflammatory ocular diseases.

Keywords: Exosomes; Eye; Inflammation; Injury; Mesenchymal stem cells.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Exosomes / transplantation*
  • Eye Diseases / therapy*
  • Fibroblasts
  • Inflammation / therapy
  • Mesenchymal Stem Cell Transplantation
  • Mesenchymal Stem Cells / cytology*