1. Department of Gastrointestinal Surgery, The Third Affiliated Hospital of Sun Yat-sen University, Guangzhou, China, 510630.
2. Department of Anesthesiology, The Third Affiliated Hospital of Sun Yat-sen University, Guangzhou, China, 510630.
* contributed equally to this work.
Purpose: Acute lung injury (ALI) is a primary component of multiple organ dysfunction syndromes triggered by intestinal ischemia-reperfusion (IIR) which results in high mortality. Existing treatment options remain unsatisfactory. Mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) have shown considerable promise as a biological therapy for ALI in preclinical studies. However, there are many limitations to stem cell treatment. This study aimed to investigate whether MSC-derived exosomes, a non-cellular alternative, are able to act in a protective capacity similar to that of MSCs for ALI triggered by IIR in a rat model and to explore the underlying mechanisms.
Methods: The IIR model involved occlusion of the superior mesenteric artery of a rat for 75 min then reperfusion for 20 h. Rats then received an intravenous injection of either bone marrow-derived MSCs or MSC-derived exosomes. Pathologic alteration of lung tissue, levels of pro-inflammatory cytokines, apoptotic proteins and TLR4/NF-κB signaling were measured to evaluate the therapeutic effect of treatment with either MSCs or exosomes.
Results: Manifestations of acute lung injury after IIR were observed as edema and hemorrhage of alveoli and mesenchyme, and inflammatory cell infiltration. MSCs and MSC-derived exosomes both attenuated IIR-induced lung damage by decreased apoptosis and inflammation accompanied by down-regulation of TLR4 and NF-κB expression.
Conclusions: MSC-derived exosomes provide protection similar to that of MSCs against IIR-induced ALI via inhibition of TLR4/NF-κB signaling, suggesting that a potential strategy against IIR-mediated acute lung injury could be therapy with exosomes as a non-cellular alternative to MSC transplantation.
Keywords: Mesenchymal stem cell, exosome, ischemia reperfusion, intestine, lung injury, Toll-like receptor 4.