Extracellular vesicles derived from mesenchymal stromal cells mediate endogenous cell growth and migration via the CXCL5 and CXCL6/CXCR2 axes and repair menisci

Stem Cell Res Ther. 2021 Jul 22;12(1):414. doi: 10.1186/s13287-021-02481-9.


Background: Mesenchymal stromal cell-derived extracellular vesicles (MSC-EVs) are promising candidates for tissue regeneration therapy. However, the therapeutic efficacy of MSC-EVs for meniscus regeneration is uncertain, and the mechanisms underlying MSC-EV-mediated tissue regeneration have not been fully elucidated. The aims of this study were to evaluate the therapeutic efficacy of intra-articular MSC-EV injection in a meniscus defect model and elucidate the mechanism underlying MSC-EV-mediated tissue regeneration via combined bioinformatic analyses.

Methods: MSC-EVs were isolated from human synovial MSC culture supernatants via ultrafiltration. To evaluate the meniscus regeneration ability, MSC-EVs were injected intra-articularly in the mouse meniscus defect model immediately after meniscus resection and weekly thereafter. After 1 and 3 weeks, their knees were excised for histological and immunohistochemical evaluations. To investigate the mechanisms through which MSC-EVs accelerate meniscus regeneration, cell growth, migration, and chondrogenesis assays were performed using treated and untreated chondrocytes and synovial MSCs with or without MSC-EVs. RNA sequencing assessed the gene expression profile of chondrocytes stimulated by MSC-EVs. Antagonists of the human chemokine CXCR2 receptor (SB265610) were used to determine the role of CXCR2 on chondrocyte cell growth and migration induced by MSC-EVs.

Results: In the meniscus defect model, MSC-EV injection accelerated meniscus regeneration and normalized the morphology and composition of the repaired tissue. MSC-EVs stimulated chondrocyte and synovial MSC cell growth and migration. RNA sequencing revealed that MSC-EVs induced 168 differentially expressed genes in the chondrocytes and significantly upregulated CXCL5 and CXCL6 in chondrocytes and synovial MSCs. Suppression of CXCL5 and CXCL6 and antagonism of the CXCR2 receptor binding CXCL5 and CXCL6 negated the influence of MSC-EVs on chondrocyte cell growth and migration.

Conclusions: Intra-articular MSC-EV administration repaired meniscus defects and augmented chondrocyte and synovial MSC cell growth and migration. Comprehensive transcriptome/RNA sequencing data confirmed that MSC-EVs upregulated CXCL5 and CXCL6 in chondrocytes and mediated the cell growth and migration of these cells via the CXCR2 axis.

Keywords: CXCR2; Extracellular vesicles; Meniscus regeneration; Mesenchymal stromal cell; RNA sequencing.

MeSH terms

  • Cell Proliferation
  • Extracellular Vesicles*
  • Meniscus*
  • Mesenchymal Stem Cells*
  • Receptors, Interleukin-8B / genetics


  • Receptors, Interleukin-8B