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New way to repair nerves: Using exosomes to hijack cell-to-cell communication

Date:
September 15, 2015
Source:
Tufts University
Summary:
Biomedical engineers report a new way to induce human mesenchymal stem cells to differentiate into neuron-like cells: treating them with exosomes from rat-derived progenitor cells. In combination with synthetic nanoparticles now in development, researchers hope to make synthetic exosomes, inducing neuron growth without neural progenitor cells.
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Research by Assistant Professor of Biomedical Engineering Qiaobing Xu and colleagues could lead to new ways to repair nerve tissue injuries.
Credit: Kelvin Ma

Regenerative medicine using stem cells is an increasingly promising approach to treat many types of injury. Transplanted stem cells can differentiate into just about any other kind of cell, including neurons to potentially reconnect a severed spinal cord and repair paralysis.

A variety of agents have been shown to induce transplanted stem cells to differentiate into neurons. Tufts University biomedical engineers recently published the first report of a promising new way to induce human mesenchymal stem cells (or hMSCs, which are derived from bone marrow) to differentiate into neuron-like cells: treating them with exosomes.

Exosomes are very small, hollow particles that are secreted from many types of cells. They contain functional proteins and genetic materials and serve as a vehicle for communication between cells. In the nervous system, exosomes guide the direction of nerve growth, control nerve connection and help regenerate peripheral nerves.

In a series of experiments reported in PLOS ONE in August, the Tufts researchers showed that exosomes from PC12 cells (neuron-like progenitor cells derived from rats) at various stages of their own differentiation could, in turn, cause hMSCs to become neuron-like cells. Exosomes had not previously been studied as a way to induce human stem cell differentiation.

The biomedical engineers also showed that the exosomes contain miRNAs--tiny pieces of RNA that regulate cell behavior and are known to play a role in neuronal differentiation. The researchers hypothesize that the exosomes caused the hMSCs to differentiate by delivering miRNA into the stem cells. The researchers plan future studies to determine the exact mechanism.

Synthetic Exosomes Could Avoid Need for Neural Progenitor Cells

"In combination with synthetic nanoparticles that my laboratory is developing, we may ultimately be able to use these identified miRNAs or proteins to make synthetic exosomes, thereby avoiding the need to use any kind of neural progenitor cell line to induce neuron growth," said the paper's senior and corresponding author Qiaobing Xu, assistant professor of biomedical engineering at Tufts School of Engineering.


Story Source:

Materials provided by Tufts University. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Yuji S. Takeda, Qiaobing Xu. Neuronal Differentiation of Human Mesenchymal Stem Cells Using Exosomes Derived from Differentiating Neuronal Cells. PLOS ONE, 2015; 10 (8): e0135111 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0135111

Cite This Page:

Tufts University. "New way to repair nerves: Using exosomes to hijack cell-to-cell communication." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 15 September 2015. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/09/150915162509.htm>.
Tufts University. (2015, September 15). New way to repair nerves: Using exosomes to hijack cell-to-cell communication. ScienceDaily. Retrieved May 25, 2017 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/09/150915162509.htm
Tufts University. "New way to repair nerves: Using exosomes to hijack cell-to-cell communication." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/09/150915162509.htm (accessed May 25, 2017).

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