Human Amniotic Epithelial Cell-Derived Exosomes Restore Ovarian Function by Transferring MicroRNAs Against Apoptosis

Mol Ther Nucleic Acids. 2019 Jun 7;16:407-418. doi: 10.1016/j.omtn.2019.03.008. Epub 2019 Apr 6.


Premature ovarian failure (POF) is one of the most common complications among female patients with tumors treated with chemotherapy and requires advanced treatment strategies. Human amniotic epithelial cell (hAEC)-based therapy mediates tissue regeneration in a variety of diseases, and increasing evidence suggests that the therapeutic efficacy of hAECs mainly depends on paracrine action. This study aimed to identify exosomes derived from hAECs and explored the therapeutic potential in ovaries damaged by chemotherapy and the underlying molecular mechanism. hAEC-derived exosomes exhibited a cup- or sphere-shaped morphology with a mean diameter of 100 nm and were positive for Alix, CD63, and CD9. hAEC exosomes increased the number of follicles and improved ovarian function in POF mice. During the early stage of transplantation, hAEC exosomes significantly inhibited granulosa cell apoptosis, protected the ovarian vasculature from damage, and were involved in maintaining the number of primordial follicles in the injured ovaries. Enriched microRNAs (miRNAs) existed in hAEC exosomes, and target genes were enriched in phosphatidylinositol signaling and apoptosis pathways. Studies in vitro demonstrated that hAEC exosomes inhibited chemotherapy-induced granulosa cell apoptosis via transferring functional miRNAs, such as miR-1246. Our findings demonstrate that hAEC-derived exosomes have the potential to restore ovarian function in chemotherapy-induced POF mice by transferring miRNAs.

Keywords: apoptosis; exosomes; human amniotic epithelial cells; microRNAs; ovarian function; premature ovarian failure.