Mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) with regenerative and differentiation capabilities have received much attention among ophthalmologists and scientists as an alternative modality in the treatment of corneal diseases.
Recently, a research team led by Prof. YANG Hui from the Shenzhen Institute of Advanced Technology (SIAT) of the Chinese Academy of Sciences developed a human cornea-on-a-chip to validate the therapeutic effect of MSCs exosomes on corneal diseases.
The study was published in iScience on April 4.
The researchers first developed a microfluidic platform consisting of human corneal cells and a porous membrane, replicating the multi-scale structural organization and biological phenotype.
Organs-on-chips are microfluidic devices for cell culturing to simulate tissue-level or organ-level physiology and recapitulate their microenvironment.
Then they used the human cornea-on-a-chip to establish an in vitro mild corneal injury model to study whether cell-free therapy promotes corneal wound healing.
They found that the bone marrow-derived mesenchymal stem cells exosomes could significantly promote cell migration and reduce the expression of matrix metallopeptidase 2 (MMP-2) protein, indicating that it could inhibit corneal inflammation and neovascularization, which was beneficial for wound healing.
"We are thrilled to develop a promising platform with dramatic advances for studying nanodrug delivery systems," said Prof. YANG. "By mitigating the drawbacks of conventional models, cornea-on-a-chip is able to recapitulate physiological and pathophysiological features of human cornea in artificial microfluidic devices with high fidelity."
This work demonstrated a micro-engineered device to study the therapeutic effect of MSCs exosomes on corneal diseases, providing a potential solution to obtain predictive results from in vivo observations.
"Our study validates the therapeutic effect of MSCs exosomes on corneal diseases, but the mechanism remains unknown," said YU Zitong, first author of this study, "we will continue working on this question."
A human cornea-on-a-chip for the study of epithelial wound healing by mesenchymal stem cell exosomes. (Image by SIAT)
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