Mesenchymal stromal cells (MSCs)-derived extracellular vesicles (EVs) are promising therapeutic nano-carriers for the treatment of osteoarthritis (OA). The assessment of their uptake in tissues is mandatory but, to date, available technology does not allow to track and quantify incorporation in real-time. To fill this knowledge gap, the present study was intended to develop an innovative technology to determine kinetics of fluorescent MSC-EV uptake by means of time-lapse quantitative microscopy techniques. Adipose-derived mesenchymal stromal cells (ASCs)-EVs were fluorescently labeled and tracked during their uptake into chondrocytes micromasses or cartilage explants, both derived from OA patients. Immunofluorescence and time-lapse coherent anti-Stokes Raman scattering, second harmonic generation and two-photon excited fluorescence were used to follow and quantify incorporation. EVs penetration appeared quickly after few minutes and reached 30–40 µm depth after 5 h in both explants and micromasses. In explants, uptake was slightly faster, with EVs signal overlapping both extracellular matrix and chondrocytes, whereas in micromasses a more homogenous diffusion was observed. The finding of this study demonstrates that this innovative technology is a powerful tool to monitor EVs migration in tissues characterized by a complex extracellular network, and to obtain data resembling in vivo conditions.
- Coherent anti-stokes raman scattering
- Extracellular vesicles
- Mesenchymal stem cells
- Second harmonic generation
- Two-photon excitation fluorescence
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Pharmaceutical Science