Fan B, Chopp M, Zhang ZG, and Liu XS. Treatment of diabetic peripheral neuropathy with engineered mesenchymal stromal cell-derived exosomes enriched with microRNA-146a provide amplified therapeutic efficacy. Exp Neurol 2021; 341:113694.
Diabetic peripheral neuropathy (DPN) is one of the most prevalent chronic complications of diabetes mellitus with no effective treatment. We recently demonstrated that mesenchymal stromal cell (MSC)-derived exosomes (exo-naïve) alleviate neurovascular dysfunction and improve functional recovery. MicroRNA (miRNA), one of the exosomal cargos, downregulates inflammation-related genes, resulting in suppression of pro-inflammatory gene activation. In the present study, we developed engineered MSC-exosomes loaded with miR-146a (exo-146a) and compared the therapeutic effects of exo-146a with exo-naïve in diabetic (db/db) mice with DPN. Exo-146a possesses a high loading capacity, robust ability to accumulate in peripheral nerve tissues upon systemic administration, and evokes substantially enhanced therapeutic efficacy on neurological recovery compared with exo-naïve. Treatment of DPN in diabetic mice with exo-146a for two weeks significantly increased and decreased nerve conduction velocity, and thermal and mechanical stimuli threshold, respectively, whereas it took four weeks of exo-naive treatment to achieve these improvements. Compared with exo-naïve, exo-146a significantly suppressed the peripheral blood inflammatory monocytes and the activation of endothelial cells via inhibiting Toll-like receptor (TLR)-4/NF-κB signaling pathway. These data provide a proof-of-concept about both the feasibility and efficacy of the exosome-based gene therapy for DPN. The translation of this approach to the clinic has the potential to improve the prospects for people who suffer from DPN.