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Publication in frontiers in Neurology by Univ.-Prof. Dr. Eva Rohde, Univ.-Doz. Dr. Mario Gimona and Univ.-Prof. Dr. Dirk Strunk

Extracellular Vesicles Can Deliver Anti-inflammatory and Anti-scarring Activities of Mesenchymal Stromal Cells After Spinal Cord Injury

Spinal cord injury is characterized by initial neural tissue disruption that triggers secondary damage and extensive non-resolving inflammation, which aggravates loss of function and hinders recovery. The early onset of inflammation following traumatic spinal cord injury underscores the importance of acute intervention after the initial trauma. Injections of mesenchymal stromal cells (MSCs) can reduce inflammation following spinal cord injury. We asked if extracellular vesicles (EVs) can substitute the anti-inflammatory and anti-scarring activities of their parental MSCs in a rat model of contusion spinal cord injury. We report that MSC-EVs were as potent as the parental intact cells in reducing the level of neuroinflammation for up to 2 weeks post-injury. Acute application of EVs after spinal cord injury was shown to robustly decrease the expression of pro-inflammatory cytokines in the spinal cord parenchyma in the very early phase of secondary damage. Moreover, the anti-scarring impact of MSC-EVs was even more efficient than the parental cells. We therefore conclude that anti-inflammatory and anti-scarring activities of MSC application can be mediated by their secreted EVs. In light of their substantial safety and druggability advantages, EVs may have a high potential in early therapeutic treatment following traumatic spinal cord injury. [get the paper]