miR-204-containing exosomes ameliorate GVHD-associated dry eye disease

Sci Adv. 2022 Jan 14;8(2):eabj9617. doi: 10.1126/sciadv.abj9617. Epub 2022 Jan 12.


Graft-versus-host disease (GVHD)–associated dry eye disease is characterized by extensive inflammatory destruction in the ocular surface and causes unbearable pain and visual impairment. Current treatments provide limited benefits. Here, we report that exosomes from mesenchymal stromal cells (MSC-exo) administered as eye drops notably alleviate GVHD-associated dry eye disease by suppressing inflammation and improving epithelial recovery in mice and humans. In a prospective clinical trial, 28 eyes with refractory GVHD–dry eye disease exhibited substantial relief after MSC-exo treatment, showing reduced fluorescein scores, longer tear-film breakup time, increased tear secretion, and lower OSDI scores. Mechanistically, MSC-exo reprogramed proinflammatory M1 macrophages toward the immunosuppressive M2 via miR-204–mediated targeting of the IL-6/IL-6R/Stat3 pathway. Blockade of miR-204 abolished the effects of MSC-exo, while overloading L929-exo with miR-204 markedly attenuated dry eye. Thus, this study suggests that MSC-exo are efficacious in treating GVHD-associated dry eye disease and highlights miR-204 as a potential therapeutic agent.