The functional mechanisms of mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) have become a research focus in recent years. Accumulating evidence supports the notion that MSCs act in a paracrine manner. Therefore, the biological factors in conditioned medium, including exosomes and soluble factors, derived from MSC cultures are being explored extensively. The results from most investigations show that MSC-conditioned medium or its components mediate some biological functions of MSCs. Several studies have reported that MSC-derived exosomes have functions similar to those of MSCs, such as repairing tissue damage, suppressing inflammatory responses, and modulating the immune system. However, the mechanisms are still not fully understood and the results remain controversial. Compared with cells, exosomes are more stable and reservable, have no risk of aneuploidy, a lower possibility of immune rejection following in vivo
allogeneic administration, and may provide an alternative therapy for various diseases. In this review, we summarize the properties and biological functions of MSC-derived exosomes and discuss the related mechanisms.