microRNA-375 released from extracellular vesicles of bone marrow mesenchymal stem cells exerts anti-oncogenic effects against cervical cancer

Stem Cell Res Ther. 2020 Oct 27;11(1):455. doi: 10.1186/s13287-020-01908-z.


Background: Cervical cancer is the most prevalent gynecological malignancies accompanied by high mortality, where finding a more effective therapeutic option for cervical cancer is necessary. The inhibitory role of microRNAs (miRNAs) derived from the extracellular vesicles (EVs) of the bone marrow mesenchymal stem cells (BMSCs) was analyzed in cervical cancer.

Methods: Expression of miR-375 was examined by RT-qPCR in cervical cancer cell lines. The targeting relation between miR-375 and maternal embryonic leucine zipper kinase (MELK) was predicted by bioinformatics analysis and verified by dual-luciferase reporter gene assay. Isolated BMSCs were transfected with lentivirus-mediated vectors, followed by EV extraction. The morphology of EVs was then identified using a NanoSight particle size analyzer and transmission electron microscope (TEM). The biological properties of cervical cancer cells were evaluated using Transwell, EdU, and TUNEL assays, respectively. Xenograft tumors in nude mice were observed to assess cervical tumorigenesis in vivo.

Results: Low expression of miR-375 and high expression of MELK were detected in cervical cancer samples. MELK was identified as the target gene of miR-375, which was negatively correlated with miR-375 levels. Overexpression of miR-375 suppressed proliferation, migration, and invasion of cervical cancer cells, but enhanced cell apoptosis by cooperating with downregulated MELK expression. miR-375 transferred from BMSC-derived EVs exerted the same effects on cell biological activities. Xenograft assays in vivo proved that miR-375 from BMSC-derived EVs inhibited tumor growth.

Conclusion: The present study highlighted the role of miR-375 from BMSC-derived EVs in suppressing the progression of cervical cancer, which may contribute to the discovery of novel potential biomarkers for cervical cancer therapy.

Keywords: Bone marrow mesenchymal stem cells; Cervical cancer; Extracellular vesicles; Maternal embryonic leucine zipper kinase; MicroRNA-375.