Bone marrow-derived extracellular vesicles modulate the abundance of infiltrating immune cells in the brain and exert an antiviral effect against the Japanese encephalitis virus

FASEB Bioadv. 2022 Oct 28;4(12):798-815. doi: 10.1096/fba.2022-00071. eCollection 2022 Dec.


Mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) have regenerative capacity and have reported a beneficial effect on the Japanese encephalitis virus (JEV) in an encephalitis model. However, the MSCs do not cross the blood-brain barrier and have other disadvantages limiting their therapeutic utility scope. Recently, there has been a shift in concept from a cell-based to a cell-free approach using MSCs-derived extracellular vesicles (MSC-EVs). The MSC-EVs retain regenerative and immunomodulatory capacity as their parental cells. However, the role of MSC-EVs in limiting JEV pathology remains elusive. In this study, we have used Bone marrow (BM)-derived EV (BM-EVs) and assessed their effect on JEV replication and pathogenesis in primary neuronal stem cells and a murine model. The in vitro and in vivo studies suggested that BM-derived EVs delay JEV-induced symptoms and death in mice, improve the length of survival, accelerate neurogenesis in primary neuronal stem cells, reduce JEV-induced neuronal death, and attenuate viral replication. BM-EVs treatment upregulated interferon-stimulated genes. Flow cytometry analysis revealed a reduction in the frequency of macrophages. At the same time, CD4+ T cells and neutrophils were significantly augmented, accompanied by the alteration of cytokine expression with the administration of BM-EVs, reinforcing the immunomodulatory role of EVs during JEV-induced encephalitis. In conclusion, our study describes the beneficial role of BM-EVs in limiting JEV pathology by attenuating virus replication, enhancing antiviral response, and neurogenesis in primary neuronal stem cells. However, BM-EVs do not seem to protect BBB integrity and alter immune cell infiltration into the treated brain.

Keywords: EVs; JEV; MSC; Neurospheres; antiviral genes.