Bone marrow-derived mesenchymal stem cells improve cognitive impairment in an Alzheimer's disease model by increasing the expression of microRNA-146a in hippocampus

Sci Rep. 2020 Jul 1;10(1):10772. doi: 10.1038/s41598-020-67460-1.


Alzheimer's disease (AD) is characterized by the accumulation of amyloid-β and tau. We previously reported that administration of bone marrow mesenchymal stem cells (BM-MSCs) ameliorates diabetes-induced cognitive impairment by transferring exosomes derived from these cells into astrocytes. Here, we show that intracerebroventricularly injected BM-MSCs improve cognitive impairment in AD model mice by ameliorating astrocytic inflammation as well as synaptogenesis. Although AD model mice showed an increase in NF-κB in the hippocampus, BM-MSC-treated AD model mice did not show this increase but showed an increase in levels of microRNA (miR)-146a in the hippocampus. Intracerebroventricularly injected BM-MSCs were attached to the choroid plexus in the lateral ventricle, and thus, BM-MSCs may secrete exosomes into the cerebrospinal fluid. In vitro experiments showed that exosomal miR-146a secreted from BM-MSCs was taken up into astrocytes, and an increased level of miR-146a and a decreased level of NF-κB were observed in astrocytes. Astrocytes are key cells for the formation of synapses, and thus, restoration of astrocytic function may have led to synaptogenesis and correction of cognitive impairment. The present study indicates that exosomal transfer of miR-146a is involved in the correction of cognitive impairment in AD model mice.