Modulating poststroke inflammatory mechanisms: Novel aspects of mesenchymal stem cells, extracellular vesicles and microglia

World J Stem Cells. 2021 Aug 26;13(8):1030-1048. doi: 10.4252/wjsc.v13.i8.1030.


Inflammation plays an important role in the pathological process of ischemic stroke, and systemic inflammation affects patient prognosis. As resident immune cells in the brain, microglia are significantly involved in immune defense and tissue repair under various pathological conditions, including cerebral ischemia. Although the differentiation of M1 and M2 microglia is certainly oversimplified, changing the activation state of microglia appears to be an intriguing therapeutic strategy for cerebral ischemia. Recent evidence indicates that both mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) and MSC-derived extracellular vesicles (EVs) regulate inflammation and modify tissue repair under preclinical stroke conditions. However, the precise mechanisms of these signaling pathways, especially in the context of the mutual interaction between MSCs or MSC-derived EVs and resident microglia, have not been sufficiently unveiled. Hence, this review summarizes the state-of-the-art knowledge on MSC- and MSC-EV-mediated regulation of microglial activity under ischemic stroke conditions with respect to various signaling pathways, including cytokines, neurotrophic factors, transcription factors, and microRNAs.

Keywords: Extracellular vesicles; Ischemic stroke; M2 polarization; Mesenchymal stem cells; Microglial activation.

Publication types

  • Review