Turkish Journal of Biology




Discovery of novel and broad-acting immunomodulators is of critical importance for the prevention and treatment of disorders occurring due to overexuberant immune responseincluding SARS-CoV-2 triggered cytokine storm leading to lung pathology and mortality during the ongoing viral pandemic. Mesenchymal stem/stromal cells (MSCs), highly regarded for their regenerative capacities, also possessesremarkable immunoregulatory functions affecting all types of innate and adaptive immune cells. Owing to that, MSCs have been heavily investigated in clinic for the treatment of autoimmune and inflammatory diseases along with transplant rejection. Extensive research in the last decaderevealed that MSCs carry out most of their functions through paracrine factors which are soluble mediators and extracellular vesicles (EVs). EVs, including exosomes and microvesicles, are an efficient way of intercellular communication due to their unique ability to carry biological messages such as transcription factors, growth factors, cytokines, mRNAs and miRNAs over long distances. EVs originate through direct budding of the cell membrane or the endosomal secretion pathway and they consist of the cytosolic and membrane components of their parent cell. Therefore, they are able to mimic the characteristics of the parent cell, affecting the target cells upon binding or internalization. EVs secreted by MSCs are emerging as a cell-free alternative to MSC-based therapies. MSC EVs are being tested in preclinical and clinical settings where they exhibit exceptional immunosuppressivecapacity. They regulate the migration, proliferation, activation and polarization of various immune cells, promoting a tolerogenic immune response while inhibiting inflammatory response. Being as effective immunomodulators as their parent cells, MSC EVs are also preferable over MSC-based therapies due to their lower risk of immunogenicity, tumorigenicity and overall superior safety. In this review, we present the outcomes of preclinical and clinical studies utilizing MSC EVs as therapeutic agents for the treatment of a wide variety of immunological disorders.


Mesenchymal stem cells, extracellular vesicles, exosomes, inflammation, autoimmunity, COVID-19

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