Mesenchymal Stem Cells Deliver Exogenous MicroRNA-let7c via Exosomes to Attenuate Renal Fibrosis Academic Article uri icon


  • The advancement of microRNA (miRNA) therapies has been hampered by difficulties in delivering miRNA to the injured kidney in a robust and sustainable manner. Using bioluminescence imaging in mice with unilateral ureteral obstruction (UUO), we report that mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs), engineered to overexpress miRNA-let7c (miR-let7c-MSCs), selectively homed to damaged kidneys and upregulated miR-let7c gene expression, compared with nontargeting control (NTC)-MSCs. miR-let7c-MSC therapy attenuated kidney injury and significantly downregulated collagen IVα1, metalloproteinase-9, transforming growth factor (TGF)-β1, and TGF-β type 1 receptor (TGF-βR1) in UUO kidneys, compared with controls. In vitro analysis confirmed that the transfer of miR-let7c from miR-let7c-MSCs occurred via secreted exosomal uptake, visualized in NRK52E cells using cyc3-labeled pre-miRNA-transfected MSCs with/without the exosomal inhibitor, GW4869. The upregulated expression of fibrotic genes in NRK52E cells induced by TGF-β1 was repressed following the addition of isolated exosomes or indirect coculture of miR-let7c-MSCs, compared with NTC-MSCs. Furthermore, the cotransfection of NRK52E cells using the 3'UTR of TGF-βR1 confirmed that miR-let7c attenuates TGF-β1-driven TGF-βR1 gene expression. Taken together, the effective antifibrotic function of engineered MSCs is able to selectively transfer miR-let7c to damaged kidney cells and will pave the way for the use of MSCs for therapeutic delivery of miRNA targeted at kidney disease.


  • Wang, Bo
  • Yao, Kevin
  • Huuskes, Brooke M
  • Shen, Hsin-Hui
  • Zhuang, Junli
  • Godson, Catherine
  • Brennan, Eoin P
  • Wilkinson-Berka, Jennifer L
  • Wise, Andrea F
  • Ricardo, Sharon D

publication date

  • 2016

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