Mesenchymal stromal cells (MSCs) are attractive agents for the prophylaxis of acute graft-versus-host disease (aGVHD) after allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (allo-HSCT). However, safety concerns remain about their clinical application. In this study, we explored whether extracellular vesicles released from human umbilical cord-derived MSCs (hUC-MSC-EVs) could prevent aGVHD in a mouse model of allo-HSCT. hUC-MSC-EVs were intravenously administered to recipient mice on days 0 and 7 after allo-HSCT, and the prophylactic effects of hUC-MSC-EVs were assessed by observing the in vivo manifestations of aGVHD, histologic changes in target organs and recipient mouse survival. We evaluated the effects of hUC-MSC-EVs on immune cells and inflammatory cytokines by flow cytometry and ProcartaPlex™ Multiplex Immunoassays, respectively. The in vitro effects of hUC-MSC-EVs were determined via mitogen-induced proliferation assays. hUC-MSC-EVs alleviated the in vivo manifestations of aGVHD and the associated histologic changes and significantly reduced the mortality of the recipient mice. Recipients treated with hUC-MSC-EVs had significantly lower frequencies and absolute numbers of CD3+CD8+ T cells; reduced serum levels of IL-2, TNF-α and IFN-γ; a higher ratio of CD3+CD4+ and CD3+CD8+ T cells; and higher serum levels of IL-10. An in vitro experiment demonstrated that hUC-MSC-EVs inhibited the mitogen-induced proliferation of splenocytes in a dose-dependent manner, and the cytokine changes were similar to those observed in vivo. This study indicated that hUC-MSC-EVs can prevent life-threatening aGVHD by modulating immune responses. These data provide the first evidence that hUC-MSC-EVs represent an ideal alternative in the prophylaxis of aGVHD after allo-HSCT.
Extracellular vesicles released from human umbilical cord-derived mesenchymal stromal cells prevent life-threatening acute graft-versus-host disease in a mouse model of allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplantation.