Beneficial effects of exosomes secreted by cardiac-derived progenitor cells and other cell types in myocardial ischemia
When injected into acutely infarcted rodent or pig hearts, naturally secreted nanovesicles known as exosomes from cardiac-derived progenitor cells (CPCs) reduce scar size and improve cardiac function. In this regard, exosomes fully mimic the benefits of injecting their parent cells. This recognition paves the way to the development of exosome-based, cell-free treatments for heart disease that could possibly supplant cell-based therapies. Mechanisms of benefit of these vesicles are incompletely understood but cytoprotection, stimulation of angiogenesis, induction of antifibrotic cardiac fibroblasts, and modulation of M1/M2 polarization of macrophages infiltrating the infarcted region can all play important roles. Accordingly, the beneficial molecules carried by CPC-secreted exosomes have been identified only in part but cytoprotective and proangiogenic microRNAs (miRNA) and proteins have been described. Besides CPC-secreted exosomes, vesicles released from other cell types including mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs), embryonic stem cells (ESCs), and induced pluripotent stem cells (iSPCs) have also been associated with cardioprotection. This review aims to discuss recent advances in our understanding of the role of secreted vesicles in cardiac repair, with a focus on CPC-derived exosomes.