A new approach for loading anticancer drugs into mesenchymal stem cell-derived exosome mimetics

Exosomes derived from mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) have been evaluated for their potential to be used as drug delivery vehicles. Synthetically personalized exosome mimetics (EMs) could be the alternative vesicles for drug delivery. In this study, researchers from Kyungpook National University aimed to isolate EMs from human MSCs. Cells were mixed with paclitaxel (PTX) and PTX-loaded EMs (PTX-MSC-EMs) were isolated and evaluated for their anticancer effects against breast cancer. EMs were isolated from human bone marrow-derived MSCs. MSCs (4 × 106 cells/mL) were mixed with or without PTX at different concentrations in phosphate-buffered saline (PBS) and serially extruded through 10-, 5-, and 1-μm polycarbonate membrane filters using a mini-extruder. MSCs were centrifuged to remove debris and the supernatant was filtered through a 0.22-μm filter, followed by ultracentrifugation to isolate EMs and drug-loaded EMs. EMs without encapsulated drug (MSC-EMs) and those with encapsulated PTX (PTX-MSC-EMs) were characterized by western blotting, nanoparticle tracking analysis (NTA), and transmission electron microscopy (TEM). The anticancer effects of MSC-EMs and PTX-MSC-EMs were assessed with breast cancer (MDA-MB-231) cells both in vitro and in vivo using optical imaging. EMs were isolated by the extrusion method and ultracentrifugation. The isolated vesicles were positive for membrane markers (ALIX and CD63) and negative for golgi (GM130) and endoplasmic (calnexin) marker proteins. NTA revealed the size of MSC-EM to be around 149 nm, while TEM confirmed its morphology. PTX-MSC-EMs significantly (p < 0.05) decreased the viability of MDA-MB-231 cells in vitro at increasing concentrations of EM. The in vivo tumor growth was significantly inhibited by PTX-MSC-EMs as compared to control and/or MSC-EMs. Thus, MSC-EMs were successfully isolated using simple procedures and drug-loaded MSC-EMs were shown to be therapeutically efficient for the treatment of breast cancer both in vitro and in vivo. MSC-EMs may be used as drug delivery vehicles for breast cancers.

 Fluc activity and quantitative evaluation of MDA-MB-231/effluc cells
after PTX-MSC-EM treatment


(A) 24 h BLI and quantitative data. (B) 48 h BLI and quantitative data. Values are expressed as the mean ± standard deviation (SD). ∗∗p < 0.01 and ∗∗∗p < 0.001 (Student’s t-test). Significant difference was compared between individual control and treatment groups (25, 50, and 100 μg/mL of PTX-MSC-EM). #p < 0.05 by Student’s t-test. (#) represents comparison between groups treated with 25 and 50 μg/mL of PTX-MSC-EMs.

Kalimuthu S, Gangadaran P, Rajendran RL, Zhu L, Oh JM, Lee HW, Gopal A, Baek SH, Jeong SY, Lee SW, Lee J, Ahn BC. (2018) A New Approach for Loading Anticancer Drugs Into Mesenchymal Stem Cell-Derived Exosome Mimetics for Cancer Therapy. Front Pharmacol 9:1116. [article]

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