Exosomes derived from mesenchymal stem cells suppress angiogenesis by down-regulating VEGF expression in breast cancer cells.PLoS One 2013; 8(12):e84256Plos
Exosomes are small membrane vesicles released by a variety of cell types. Exosomes contain genetic materials, such as mRNAs and microRNAs (miRNAs), implying that they may play a pivotal role in cell-to-cell communication. Mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs), which potentially differentiate into multiple cell types, can migrate to the tumor sites and have been reported to exert complex effects on tumor progression. To elucidate the role of MSCs within the tumor microenvironment, previous studies have suggested various mechanisms such as immune modulation and secreted factors of MSCs. However, the paracrine effects of MSC-derived exosomes on the tumor microenvironment remain to be explored. The hypothesis of this study was that MSC-derived exosomes might reprogram tumor behavior by transferring their molecular contents. To test this hypothesis, exosomes from MSCs were isolated and characterized. MSC-derived exosomes exhibited different protein and RNA profiles compared with their donor cells and these vesicles could be internalized by breast cancer cells. The results demonstrated that MSC-derived exosomes significantly down-regulated the expression of vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) in tumor cells, which lead to inhibition of angiogenesis in vitro and in vivo. Additionally, miR-16, a miRNA known to target VEGF, was enriched in MSC-derived exosomes and it was partially responsible for the anti-angiogenic effect of MSC-derived exosomes. The collective results suggest that MSC-derived exosomes may serve as a significant mediator of cell-to-cell communication within the tumor microenvironment and suppress angiogenesis by transferring anti-angiogenic molecules.