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    Mitochondrial dysfunction is a key feature of injury to numerous tissues and stem cell aging. Although the tissue regenerative role of mesenchymal stem cell (MSC)-derived extracellular vesicles (MSC-EVs) is well known, their specific role in regulating mitochondrial function in target cells remains elusive. Here, we report that MSC-EVs attenuated mtDNA damage and inflammation after acute kidney injury (AKI) and that this effect was at least partially dependent on the mitochondrial transcription factor A (TFAM) pathway. In detail, TFAM and mtDNA were depleted by oxidative stress in MSCs from aged or diabetic donors. Higher levels of TFAM mRNA and mtDNA were detected in normal control (NC) MSC-EVs than in TFAM-knockdown (TFAM-KD) and aged EVs. EV-mediated TFAM mRNA transfer in recipient cells was unaffected by transcriptional inhibition. Accordingly, the application of MSC-EVs restored TFAM protein and TFAM-mtDNA complex (nucleoid) stability, thereby reversing mtDNA deletion and mitochondrial oxidative phosphorylation (OXPHOS) defects in injured renal tubular cells. Loss of TFAM also led to downregulation of multiple anti-inflammatory miRNAs and proteins in MSC-EVs. In vivo, intravenously injected EVs primarily accumulated in the liver, kidney, spleen, and lung. MSC-EVs attenuated renal lesion formation, mitochondrial damage, and inflammation in mice with AKI, whereas EVs from TFAM-KD or aged MSCs resulted in poor therapeutic outcomes. Moreover, TFAM overexpression (TFAM-OE) improved the rescue effect of MSC-EVs on mitochondrial damage and inflammation to some extent. This study suggests that MSC-EVs are promising nanotherapeutics for diseases characterized by mitochondrial damage, and TFAM signaling is essential for maintaining their regenerative capacity.


    Meng Zhao, Shuyun Liu, Chengshi Wang, Yizhuo Wang, Meihua Wan, Fang Liu, Meng Gong, Yujia Yuan, Younan Chen, Jingqiu Cheng, Yanrong Lu, Jingping Liu. Mesenchymal Stem Cell-Derived Extracellular Vesicles Attenuate Mitochondrial Damage and Inflammation by Stabilizing Mitochondrial DNA. ACS nano. 2021 Jan 26;15(1):1519-1538

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    PMID: 33369392

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