Exosomes from human mesenchymal stem cells conduct aerobic metabolism in term and preterm newborn infants

Isabella Panfoli, Silvia Ravera, Marina Podestà, Claudia Cossu, Laura Santucci, Martina Bartolucci, Maurizio Bruschi, Daniela Calzia, Federica Sabatini, Matteo Bruschettini, Luca Antonio Ramenghi, Olga Romantsik, Danilo Marimpietri, Vito Pistoia, Gianmarco Ghiggeri, Francesco Frassoni, Giovanni Candiano

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Exosomes are secreted nanovesicles that are able to transfer RNA and proteins to target cells. The emerging role ofmesenchymal stemcell (MSC) exosomes as promoters of aerobic ATP synthesis restoration in damaged cells, prompted us to assess whether they contain an extramitochondrial aerobic respiration capacity. Exosomes were isolated from culture medium of human MSCs from umbilical cord of †37-wk-old newborns or between 28-to 30-wk-old newborns (i.e., term or preterm infants). Characterization of samples was conducted by cytofluorometry. Oxidative phosphorylation capacity was assessed by Western blot analysis, oximetry, and luminometric and fluorometric analyses.MSC exosomes express functional respiratory complexes I, IV, and V, consuming oxygen. ATP synthesis was only detectable in exosomes from term newborns, suggestive of a specific mechanism that is not completed at an early gestational age. Activities are outward facing and comparable to those detected in mitochondria isolated from term MSCs. MSC exosomes display an unsuspected aerobic respiratory ability independent of whole mitochondria. This may be relevant for their ability to rescue cell bioenergetics. The differential oxidativemetabolismof pretermvs. term exosomes sheds new light on the preterm newborn's clinical vulnerability. A reduced ability to repair damaged tissue and an increased capability to cope with anoxic environment for preterm infants can be envisaged.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1416-1424
Number of pages9
JournalFASEB Journal
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Apr 1 2016


  • ATP synthesis
  • Electron transport chain
  • Energy metabolism
  • Oxidative phosphorylation
  • Umbilical cord

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Biotechnology
  • Genetics
  • Molecular Biology


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