Lung fibroblast-derived extracellular vesicles and soluble factors alleviate elastase-induced lung injury

Luke van der Koog, Myrthe Boerrigter, Iris Gorter, Reinoud Gosens, Anika Nagelkerke*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)
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One of the main pathological features of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is the loss of functional alveolar tissue as a consequence of impaired regenerative capacities (emphysema). Recent research suggests that the secretome from mesenchymal cells, particularly extracellular vesicles (EVs), may possess regenerative properties beneficial for lung repair. However, the regenerative potential of the soluble factors (SFs) within the secretome remains largely unexplored in COPD. To this extent, we purified EVs and SFs secreted by lung fibroblasts to generate EV-enriched and SF-enriched fractions, and evaluated their effects on elastase-induced lung injury in both precision-cut lung slices (PCLS) and a mouse model. EV- and SF-enriched fractions were concentrated and purified from the conditioned medium of cultured MRC-5 lung fibroblasts using a combination of ultrafiltration and size exclusion chromatography, and were subsequently characterized according to the MISEV guidelines. Treatment with EV- or SF-enriched concentrates prevented and improved elastase-induced emphysema in PCLS, leading to reduced lung injury and upregulated markers of alveolar epithelial cells (aquaporin 5 and surfactant protein C), indicating potential parenchymal regeneration. Accordingly, prophylactic intratracheal treatment with lung fibroblast-derived EV- and SF-enriched concentrates in vivo attenuated elastase-induced lung tissue destruction, improved lung function, and enhanced gene expression of alveolar epithelial cell markers. Here, alveolar repair not only serves the purpose of facilitating gas exchange, but also by reinstating the essential parenchymal tethering required for optimal airway mechanics. In conclusion, this study highlights the therapeutic potential of both lung fibroblast-derived EV- and SF-enriched concentrates for the treatment of lung injury and emphysema.
Original languageEnglish
Article number176612
Number of pages13
JournalAmerican Journal of Respiratory Cell and Molecular Biology
Early online date25-Apr-2024
Publication statusPublished - 5-Jul-2024


  • Extracellular Vesicles/metabolism
  • Animals
  • Fibroblasts/drug effects
  • Pancreatic Elastase
  • Lung/pathology
  • Mice
  • Humans
  • Lung Injury/pathology
  • Cell Line
  • Male
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Solubility


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