Extracellular vesicles from mesenchymal stem cells activates VEGF receptors and accelerates recovery of hindlimb ischemia

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Extracellular vesicles (EVs) derived from mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) are potential therapies for various diseases, but their angiogenic mechanisms of therapeutic efficacy remain unclear. Here, we describe how MSC-EVs, activates VEGF receptors and downstream angiogenesis pathways. Mouse MSC-EVs were isolated from cell culture medium and characterized using transmission electron microscopy, nanoparticle analysis, and western blotting. In vitro migration, proliferation, and tube formation assays using endothelial cells were used to assess the angiogenic potential of MSC-EVs, and revealed higher levels of cellular migration, proliferation, and tube formation after treatment. qRT-PCR and western blotting (WB) revealed higher protein and mRNA expression of the angiogenic genes VEGFR1 and VEGFR2 in mouse SVEC-4 endothelial cells after MSC-EVs treatment. Additionally, other vital pro-angiogenic pathways (SRC, AKT, and ERK) were activated by in vitro MSC-EV treatment. WB and qRT-PCR revealed enriched presence of VEGF protein and miR-210-3p in MSC-EV. The hindlimb ischemia mouse model was established and MSC-EVs with or without Matrigel (EV-MSC + Gel) were injected into the ischemic area and blood reperfusion was monitored using molecular imaging techniques. The in vivo administration of MSC-EVs increased both blood reperfusion and the formation of new blood vessels in the ischemic limb, with the addition of matrigel enhancing this effect further by releasing EVs slowly. MSC-EVs enhance angiogenesis in ischemic limbs, most likely via the overexpression of VEGFR1 and VEGFR2 in endothelial cells. These findings reveal a novel mechanism of activating receptors by MSC-EVs influence the angiogenesis.

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