Xeno- and transgene-free reprogramming of mesenchymal stem cells toward the cells expressing neural markers using exosome treatments


Neural stem cells (NSCs), capable of self-renew and differentiate into neural cells, hold promise for use in studies and treatments for neurological diseases. However, current approaches to obtain NSCs from a live brain are risky and invasive, since NSCs reside in the subventricular zone and the in the hippocampus dentate gyrus. Alternatively, mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) could be a more available cell source due to their abundance in tissues and easier to access. However, MSCs are committed to producing mesenchymal tissue and are not capable of spontaneously differentiating into neural cells. Thus, the process of reprogramming of MSCs into neural cells to use in clinical and scientific settings has significantly impacted the advancement of regenerative medicine. Previously, our laboratory reported trans-differentiation of MSCs to neural cells through the induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells state, which was produced by overexpression of the embryonic stem cell gene NANOG. In the current study, we demonstrate that treatment with exosomes derived from NSCs makes MSCs capable of expressing neural cell markers bypassing the generation of iPS cells. An epigenetic modifier, decitabine (5-aza-2'-deoxycytidine), enhanced the process. This novel Xeno and transgene-free trans-differentiation technology eliminates the issues associated with iPS cells, such as tumorigenesis. Thus, it may accelerate the development of neurodegenerative therapies and in vitro neurological disorder models for personalized medicine.

Authors Valerio LSA, Sugaya K
Journal PloS one
Publication Date 2020;15(10):e0240469
PubMed 33048978
PubMed Central PMC7553345
DOI 10.1371/journal.pone.0240469

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