Exosomes produced from 3D cultures of umbilical cord mesenchymal stem cells in a hollow-fiber bioreactor show improved osteochondral regeneration activity

Abstract: Animal and clinical studies have shown that mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) play an important role in cartilage repair. The therapeutic effect of mesenchymal stem cells based therapies has been increasingly demonstrated to exosome-mediated paracrine secretion. Here, we investigated the cellular processes and mechanism of exosomes produced by conventional 2D culture (2D-Exos) and exosomes produced from 3D culture (3D-Exos) of umbilical MSCs (U-MSCs) in a hollow-fiber bioreactor for the treatment of cartilage repair. We found that the yield of 3D-Exos was 7.5-fold higher than that of 2D-Exos. The in vitro experiments indicated that both 2D-Exos and 3D-Exos can stimulate chondrocyte proliferation, migration, and matrix synthesis, and inhibit apoptosis, with 3D-Exos exerting a stronger effect than 2D-Exos. This effect was partly attributed to the activation of transforming growth factor beta 1 and Smad2/3 signaling. The injection of 2D-Exos and 3D-Exos showed enhanced gross appearance and attenuated cartilage defect; however, 3D-Exos showed a superior therapeutic effect than 2D-Exos. In summary, our study provides novel insights into the chondroprotective effects of exosomes produced from 3D culture of U-MSCs in a hollow-fiber bioreactor. Because of its promising biological function and high yield, 3D-Exos may become a promising therapeutic method for the treatment of cartilage defects.