Clinical potential of mesenchymal stem/stromal cell-derived extracellular vesicles
Within the last two decades mesenchymal stem/stromal cells (MSCs) emerged after hematopoietic stem cells as the second most investigated and applied somatic stem cell entity so far. MSCs mediate immunosuppressive as well as pro-regenerative activities. Against the initial assumption, MSCs may not primarily exert their therapeutic functions in a cellular but rather in a paracrine manner. Here, extracellular vesicles (EVs), such as exosomes and microvesicles, have been identified as major mediators of these paracrine effects. Meanwhile, MSC-EVs have been applied to an increasing amount of different animal models and were tested in a patient suffering from steroid-refractory acute graft-versus-host disease (acute GvHD) as well as in a patient cohort with chronic kidney disease. So far, the MSC-EV administration appears to be safe in humans and all tested animal models. Improvements were reported in all settings. Thus, MSC-EVs appear as promising novel therapeutic agents which might help to improve disease associated symptoms in millions of patients. Here, we review some of the milestones in the field, briefly discuss challenges and highlight clinical aspects of acute GvHD and its treatment with MSCs and MSC-EVs.