The present study was set out to address the therapeutic efficacy of human adipose tissue stem cells derived extracellular vesicles (hADSC-Evs) in a mouse model of dry eye disease and to investigate the underlying mechanisms involved. hADSC-Evs eye drops were topically administered to mice that subjected to desiccating stress (DS). Clinical parameters of ocular surface damage were assessed with fluorescein staining, tear production and PAS staining. For in vitro studies, cell viability assay and TUNEL staining were performed in human corneal epithelial cells (HCECs) treated with hADSC-Evs under hyperosmotic media. In addition, immunofluorescent staining, Real-time PCR (qRT-PCR) and Western blots were used to evaluated NLRP3, ASC, caspase-1, and IL-1β expression levels. Compared with vehicle control mice, topical hADSC-Evs treated mice showed decreased corneal epithelial defects, increased tear production, decreased goblet cell loss, as well as reduced inflammatory cytokines production. In vitro, hADSC-Evs could protect HCECs against hyperosmotic stress-induced cell apoptosis. Mechanistically, hADSC-Evs treatment suppressed the DS induced rises in NLRP3 inflammasome formation, caspase-1 activation and IL-1β maturation. In conclusion, hADSC-Evs eye drops effectively suppress NLRP3 inflammatory response and alleviate ocular surface damage in dry eye disease.
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