Comparing the renoprotective effects of BM-MSCs versus BM-MSC-exosomes, when combined with an anti-fibrotic drug, in hypertensive mice

Yifang Li, Amlan Chakraborty, Brad R.S. Broughton, Dorota Ferens, Robert E. Widdop, Sharon D. Ricardo, Chrishan S. Samuel

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Fibrosis, a hallmark of chronic kidney disease (CKD), impairs the viability of human bone marrow derived-mesenchymal stromal cells (BM-MSCs) post-transplantation. To address this, we demonstrated that combining BM-MSCs with the anti-fibrotic drug, serelaxin (RLX), enhanced BM-MSC-induced renoprotection in preclinical CKD models. Given the increased interest and manufacturing advantages to using stem cell-derived exosomes (EXO) as therapeutics, this study determined whether RLX could enhance the therapeutic efficacy of BM-MSC-EXO, and compared the renoprotective effects of RLX and BM-MSC-EXO versus RLX and BM-MSCs in mice with hypertensive CKD. Adult male C57BL/6 mice were uninephrectomised, received deoxycorticosterone acetate and given saline to drink (1K/DOCA/salt) for 21 days. Control mice were uninephrectomised and given normal drinking water for the same time-period. Subgroups of 1K/DOCA/salt-hypertensive mice were then treated with either RLX (0.5 mg/kg/day) or BM-MSC-EXO (25 μg/mouse; equivalent to 1–2 × 106 BM-MSCs/mouse) alone; combinations of RLX and BM-MSC-EXO or BM-MSCs (1 × 106/mouse); or the mineralocorticoid receptor antagonist, spironolactone (20 mg/kg/day), from days 14–21. 1K/DOCA/salt-hypertensive mice developed kidney tubular damage, inflammation and fibrosis, and impaired kidney function 21 days post-injury. Whilst RLX alone attenuated the 1K/DOCA/salt-induced fibrosis, BM-MSC-EXO alone only diminished measures of tissue inflammation post-treatment. Comparatively, the combined effects of RLX and BM-MSC-EXO or BM-MSCs demonstrated similar anti-fibrotic efficacy, but RLX and BM-MSCs offered broader renoprotection over RLX and/or BM-MSC-EXO, and comparable effects to spironolactone. Only RLX and BM-MSCs, but not RLX and/or BM-MSC-EXO, also attenuated the 1K/DOCA/salt-induced hypertension. Hence, although RLX improved the renoprotective effects of BM-MSC-EXO, combining RLX with BM-MSCs provided a better therapeutic option for hypertensive CKD.

Original languageEnglish
Article number112256
Number of pages12
JournalBiomedicine & Pharmacotherapy
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2021


  • Combination therapy
  • Exosomes
  • Fibrosis
  • Hypertensive CKD
  • Mesenchymal stem cells
  • Relaxin

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