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Research: Treatment with Amniotic Fluid Stem Cell Extracellular Vesicles Promotes Fetal Lung Branching and Cell Differentiation at Canalicular and Saccular Stages in Experimental Pulmonary Hypoplasia Secondary to Congenital Diaphragmatic Hernia

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Research: Treatment with Amniotic Fluid Stem Cell Extracellular Vesicles Promotes Fetal Lung Branching and Cell Differentiation at Canalicular and Saccular Stages in Experimental Pulmonary Hypoplasia Secondary to Congenital Diaphragmatic Hernia

Stem Cells Transl Med

. 2022 Sep 14;szac063.

 doi: 10.1093/stcltm/szac063. Online ahead of print. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/36103370/

Treatment with Amniotic Fluid Stem Cell Extracellular Vesicles Promotes Fetal Lung Branching and Cell Differentiation at Canalicular and Saccular Stages in Experimental Pulmonary Hypoplasia Secondary to Congenital Diaphragmatic Hernia

Kasra Khalaj 1 2Rebeca Lopes Figueira 1 2Lina Antounians 1 2Sree Gandhi 1 2Matthew Wales 1 2Louise Montalva 1 2George Biouss 1 2Augusto Zani 1 2 3

Affiliations expand

Abstract

Pulmonary hypoplasia secondary to congenital diaphragmatic hernia (CDH) is characterized by impaired branching morphogenesis and differentiation. We have previously demonstrated that administration of extracellular vesicles derived from rat amniotic fluid stem cells (AFSC-EVs) rescues development of hypoplastic lungs at the pseudoglandular and alveolar stages in rodent models of CDH. Herein, we tested whether AFSC-EVs exert their regenerative effects at the canalicular and saccular stages, as these are translationally relevant for clinical intervention. To induce fetal pulmonary hypoplasia, we gavaged rat dams with nitrofen at embryonic day 9.5 and demonstrated that nitrofen-exposed lungs had impaired branching morphogenesis, dysregulated signaling pathways relevant to lung development (FGF10/FGFR2, ROBO/SLIT, Ephrin, Neuropilin 1, β-catenin) and impaired epithelial and mesenchymal cell marker expression at both stages. AFSC-EVs administered to nitrofen-exposed lung explants rescued airspace density and increased the expression levels of key factors responsible for branching morphogenesis. Moreover, AFSC-EVs rescued the expression of alveolar type 1 and 2 cell markers at both canalicular and saccular stages and restored markers of club, ciliated epithelial, and pulmonary neuroendocrine cells at the saccular stage. AFSC-EV-treated lungs also had restored markers of lipofibroblasts and PDGFRA+ cells to control levels at both stages. EV tracking showed uptake of AFSC-EV RNA cargo throughout the fetal lung and an mRNA-miRNA network analysis identified that several miRNAs responsible for regulating lung development processes were contained in the AFSC-EV cargo. These findings suggest that AFSC-EV-based therapies hold potential for restoring fetal lung growth and maturation in babies with pulmonary hypoplasia secondary to CDH.

Keywords: congenital diaphragmatic hernia; exosome; extracellular vesicles; fetal medicine; lung development; microRNA; pulmonary hypoplasia; regenerative medicine.

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