Interaction with hyaluronan matrix and miRNA cargo as contributors for in vitro potential of mesenchymal stem cell-derived extracellular vesicles in a model of human osteoarthritic synoviocytes

Enrico Ragni, Carlotta Perucca Orfei, Paola De Luca, Gaia Lugano, Marco Viganò, Alessandra Colombini, Federico Valli, Daniele Zacchetti, Valentina Bollati, Laura De Girolamo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Osteoarthritis (OA) is the most prevalent joint disease, and to date, no options for effective tissue repair and restoration are available. With the aim of developing new therapies, the impact of mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) has been explored, and the efficacy of MSCs started to be deciphered. A strong paracrine capacity relying on both secreted and vesicle-embedded (EVs) protein or nucleic acid-based factors has been proposed as the principal mechanism that contributes to tissue repair. This work investigated the mechanism of internalization of extracellular vesicles (EVs) released by adipose-derived MSCs (ASCs) and the role of shuttled miRNAs in the restoration of homeostasis in an in vitro model of human fibroblast-like synoviocytes (FLSs) from OA patients. Methods: ASC-EVs were isolated by differential centrifugation and validated by flow cytometry and nanoparticle tracking analysis. ASC-EVs with increased hyaluronan (HA) receptor CD44 levels were obtained culturing ASCs on HA-coated plastic surfaces. OA FLSs with intact or digested HA matrix were co-cultured with fluorescent ASC-EVs, and incorporation scored by flow cytometry and ELISA. ASC-EV complete miRNome was deciphered by high-throughput screening. In inflamed OA FLSs, genes and pathways potentially regulated by ASC-EV miRNA were predicted by bioinformatics. OA FLSs stimulated with IL-1β at physiological levels (25 pg/mL) were treated with ASC-EVs, and expression of inflammation and OA-related genes was measured by qRT-PCR over a 10-day time frame with modulated candidates verified by ELISA. Results: The data showed that HA is involved in ASC-EV internalization in FLSs. Indeed, both removal of HA matrix presence on FLSs and modulation of CD44 levels on EVs affected their recruitment. Bioinformatics analysis of EV-embedded miRNAs showed their ability to potentially regulate the main pathways strictly associated with synovial inflammation in OA. In this frame, ASC-EVs reduced the expression of pro-inflammatory cytokines and chemokines in a chronic model of FLS inflammation. Conclusions: Given their ability to affect FLS behavior in a model of chronic inflammation through direct interaction with HA matrix and miRNA release, ASC-EVs confirm their role as a novel therapeutic option for osteoarthritic joints.

Original languageEnglish
Article number109
JournalStem Cell Research and Therapy
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Mar 29 2019


  • Adipose-derived mesenchymal stem cells
  • Extracellular vesicles
  • Hyaluronan coat
  • miRNA
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Synoviocytes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Molecular Medicine
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology (miscellaneous)
  • Cell Biology

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