Mesenchymal stem cell–derived extracellular vesicles improve the molecular phenotype of isolated rat lungs during ischemia/reperfusion injury

Caterina Lonati, Giulia Alessandra Bassani, Daniela Brambilla, Patrizia Leonardi, Andrea Carlin, Marco Maggioni, Alberto Zanella, Daniele Dondossola, Valentina Fonsato, Cristina Grange, Giovanni Camussi, Stefano Gatti

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


BACKGROUND: Lung ischemia/reperfusion (IR) injury contributes to the development of severe complications in patients undergoing transplantation. Mesenchymal stem cell (MSC)-derived extracellular vesicles (EVs) exert beneficial actions comparable to those of MSCs without the risks of the cell-based strategy. This research investigated EV effects during IR injury in isolated rat lungs. METHODS: An established model of 180-minutes ex vivo lung perfusion (EVLP) was used. At 60 minutes EVs (n = 5) or saline (n = 5) were administered. Parallel experiments used labeled EVs to determine EV biodistribution (n = 4). Perfusate samples were collected to perform gas analysis and to assess the concentration of nitric oxide (NO), hyaluronan (HA), inflammatory mediators, and leukocytes. Lung biopsies were taken at 180 minutes to evaluate HA, adenosine triphosphate (ATP), gene expression, and histology. RESULTS: Compared with untreated lungs, EV-treated organs showed decreased vascular resistance and a rise of perfusate NO metabolites. EVs prevented the reduction in pulmonary ATP caused by IR. Increased medium-high-molecular-weight HA was detected in the perfusate and in the lung tissue of the IR + EV group. Significant differences in cell count on perfusate and tissue samples, together with induction of transcription and synthesis of chemokines, suggested EV-dependent modulation of leukocyte recruitment. EVs upregulated genes involved in the resolution of inflammation and oxidative stress. Biodistribution analysis showed that EVs were retained in the lung tissue and internalized within pulmonary cells. CONCLUSIONS: This study shows multiple novel EV influences on pulmonary energetics, tissue integrity, and gene expression during IR. The use of cell-free therapies during EVLP could constitute a valuable strategy for reconditioning and repair of injured lungs before transplantation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1306-1316
JournalJournal of Heart and Lung Transplantation
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - 2019


  • ex vivo lung perfusion
  • hyaluronan
  • ischemia/reperfusion injury
  • lung transplantation
  • mesenchymal stem cell–derived extracellular vesicles

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine
  • Transplantation


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