Diverse impact of xeno-free conditions on biological and regenerative properties of hUC-MSCs and their extracellular vesicles

Sylwia Bobis-Wozowicz, Katarzyna Kmiotek, Karolina Kania, Elzbieta Karnas, Anna Labedz-Maslowska, Malgorzata Sekula, Sylwia Kedracka-Krok, Jacek Kolcz, Dariusz Boruczkowski, Zbigniew Madeja, Ewa K. Zuba-SurmaJ Mol Med, 2016

Growing evidence indicates that intracellular signaling mediated by extracellular vesicles (EVs) released by stem cells plays a considerable role in triggering the regenerative program upon transplantation. EVs from umbilical cord mesenchymal stem cells (UC-MSC-EVs) have been shown to enhance tissue repair in animal models. However, translating such results into clinical practice requires optimized EV collection procedures devoid of animal-originating agents. Thus, in this study, we analyzed the influence of xeno-free expansion media on biological properties of UC-MSCs and UC-MSC-EVs for future applications in cardiac repair in humans. Our results show that proliferation, differentiation, phenotype stability, and cytokine secretion by UC-MSCs vary depending on the type of xeno-free media. Importantly, we found distinct molecular and functional properties of xeno-free UC-MSC-EVs including enhanced cardiomyogenic and angiogenic potential impacting on target cells, which may be explained by elevated concentration of several pro-cardiogenic and pro-angiogenic microRNA (miRNAs) present in the EVs. Our data also suggest predominantly low immunogenic capacity of certain xeno-free UC-MSC-EVs reflected by their inhibitory effect on proliferation of immune cells in vitro. Summarizing, conscious selection of cell culture conditions is required to harvest UC-MSC-EVs with the optimal desired properties including enhanced cardiac and angiogenic capacity, suitable for tissue regeneration.

Key message

  • Type of xeno-free media influences biological properties of UC-MSCs in vitro.

  • Certain xeno-free media promote proliferation and differentiation ability of UC-MSCs.

  • EVs collected from xeno-free cultures of UC-MSCs are biologically active.

  • Xeno-free UC-MSC-EVs enhance cardiac and angiogenic potential of target cells.

  • Type of xeno-free media determines immunomodulatory effects mediated by UC-MSC-EVs.


Extracellular vesicles Mesenchymal stem cells Umbilical cord Xeno-free Immunomodulation Heart regeneration 

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