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Using Ginseng-Derived Exosomes to Transfer miRNA for Cell Neural Differentiation

This development could see further applications in the treatment of other brain diseases like stroke and Parkinson’s.

Stem cells are special cells that have the ability to develop, or differentiate, into many different cell types. This has led scientists to further examine the differentiation of bone marrow-derived mesenchymal stem cells into functional neural cells for the treatment of neural diseases. However, the limited neural differentiation of bone marrow-derived mesenchymal stem cells remains an obstacle to be overcome.

For the first time, Professor Peng Li-Hua and colleagues at the Zhejiang University College of Pharmaceutical Sciences reported that ginseng-derived exosomes (G-Exos) may be used as carriers for effective miRNA transfer into bone marrow-derived mesenchymal stem cells to stimulate neural differentiation.

Previous studies have suggested that miRNAs may play an important role in modulating cell neural differentiation by functioning as signalling molecules. This presents researchers with a potential strategy to guide the differentiation of stem cells. Yet, due to the physicochemical features of miRNA, delivering these small single-stranded molecules with high efficiency and safety continues to be a challenge, thereby hindering the potential applications of miRNAs.

Recently, exosomal-like nanovesicles (Exos) have surfaced as natural carriers for miRNA transfer. Other studies have found that neuron, astrocyte, and neural progenitor cell-derived exosomes have demonstrated the ability to deliver key miRNAs to promote neurogenesis. While exosomes derived from mammalian cells suffer from scarcity, high cost, and low production yield, those derived from medicinal plants are abundant, cost-efficient, and pose low immunological risk/side effects.

In this study, Prof. Peng and colleagues endeavoured to study the influence of plant-derived Exos in cell neural differentiation. As ginseng is often used in clinical settings to improve neurogenesis, the team hypothesised that G-Exos might exert an effect on neural differentiation.

The team first isolated Exos from the juice of ginseng and loaded chemokine and G-Exos onto a photo-cross-linkable hydrogel to construct a convenient, efficient, and safe multi-purpose wound regeneration gel dressing. When they applied the hydrogel onto a wound site in rats, they observed that a large number of bone marrow-derived stem cells were recruited to the gel. The stem cells were then induced by the G-Exos present on the gel to differentiate.

“This study demonstrated that G-Exos, which could circumvent the limitations of conventional RNA transfer strategies, may well become an effective nanoplatform in transferring plant-derived miRNAs to mammalian stem cells for neural differentiation both in vitro and in vitro, thus holding great promise in neural regenerative medicine,” said Prof. Peng.

In future, the application of G-Exos could be explored in the treatment of other brain diseases like stroke and Parkinson’s disease. [APBN]

Source: Xu et al. (2021). Plant Exosomes As Novel Nanoplatforms for MicroRNA Transfer Stimulate Neural Differentiation of Stem Cells In Vitro and In Vivo. Nano Letters.