Aptamer-functionalized exosomes from bone marrow stromal cells target bone to promote bone regeneration†
In elderly people particularly in postmenopausal women, inadequate bone formation by osteoblasts originating from bone marrow mesenchymal stem cells (BMSCs) for compensation of bone resorption by osteoclasts is a major reason for osteoporosis. Enhancing osteoblastic differentiation of BMSCs is a feasible therapeutic strategy for osteoporosis. Here, bone marrow stromal cell (ST)-derived exosomes (STExos) are found to remarkably enhance osteoblastic differentiation of BMSCs in vitro. However, intravenous injection of STExos is inefficient in ameliorating osteoporotic phenotypes in an ovariectomy (OVX)-induced postmenopausal osteoporosis mouse model, which may be because STExos are predominantly accumulated in the liver and lungs, but not in bone. Hereby, the STExo surface is conjugated with a BMSC-specific aptamer, which delivers STExos into BMSCs within bone marrow. Intravenous injection of the STExo-Aptamer complex enhances bone mass in OVX mice and accelerates bone healing in a femur fracture mouse model. These results demonstrate the efficiency of BMSC-specific aptamer-functionalized STExos in targeting bone to promote bone regeneration, providing a novel promising approach for the treatment of osteoporosis and fracture.