Therapeutic Extracellular Vesicles from Tonsil-Derived Mesenchymal Stem Cells for the Treatment of Retinal Degenerative Disease

Seung Woo Choi, Sooin Seo, Hye Kyoung Hong, So Jung Yoon, Minah Kim, Sunghyun Moon, Joo Yong Lee, Jaeseung Lim, Jong Bum Lee, Se Joon Woo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


BACKGROUND:: Retinal degenerative disease (RDD), one of the most common causes of blindness, is predominantly caused by the gradual death of retinal pigment epithelial cells (RPEs) and photoreceptors due to various causes. Cell-based therapies, such as stem cell implantation, have been developed for the treatment of RDD, but potential risks, including teratogenicity and immune reactions, have hampered their clinical application. Stem cell-derived extracellular vesicles (EVs) have recently emerged as a cell-free alternative therapeutic strategy; however, additional invasiveness and low yield of the stem cell extraction process is problematic. METHODS:: To overcome these limitations, we developed therapeutic EVs for the treatment of RDD which were extracted from tonsil-derived mesenchymal stem cells obtained from human tonsil tissue discarded as medical waste following tonsillectomy (T-MSC EVs). To verify the biocompatibility and cytoprotective effect of T-MSC EVs, we measured cell viability by co-culture with human RPE without or with toxic all-trans-retinal. To elucidate the cytoprotective mechanism of T-MSC EVs, we performed transcriptome sequencing using RNA extracted from RPEs. The in vivo protective effect of T-MSC EVs was evaluated using Pde6b gene knockout rats as an animal model of retinitis pigmentosa. RESULTS:: T-MSC EVs showed high biocompatibility and the human pigment epithelial cells were significantly protected in the presence of T-MSC EVs from the toxic effect of all-trans-retinal. In addition, T-MSC EVs showed a dose-dependent cell death-delaying effect in real-time quantification of cell death. Transcriptome sequencing analysis revealed that the efficient ability of T-MSC EVs to regulate intracellular oxidative stress may be one of the reasons explaining their excellent cytoprotective effect. Additionally, intravitreally injected T-MSC EVs had an inhibitory effect on the destruction of the outer nuclear layer in the Pde6b gene knockout rat. CONCLUSIONS:: Together, the results of this study indicate the preventive and therapeutic effects of T-MSC EVs during the initiation and development of retinal degeneration, which may be a beneficial alternative for the treatment of RDD. Graphical abstract: [Figure not available: see fulltext.].

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)951-964
Number of pages14
JournalTissue Engineering and Regenerative Medicine
Issue number6
StatePublished - Oct 2023


  • All-trans-retinal
  • Extracellular vesicles
  • Retinal degenerative disease
  • Retinal pigment epithelial cells
  • Tonsil-derived mesenchymal stem cells


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