Extracellular vesicles (EVs) have been recently identified as vital components of cell-based therapies based on the observation that conditioned media from cultured stromal cells reproduce some of the beneficial effects of intact cells. In order to obtain clinically active EVs derived from Mesenchymal Stromal Cells (MSCs) different procedures have been reported in the literature. Usually, non-confluent cells are incubated with culture medium for 48 h either with EV-depleted Fetal Bovine Serum (FBS) or without FBS. Our aim was to compare the effects of EVs isolated by ultracentrifugation from human umbilical cord MSC conditioned media obtained using these two conditions: with EV-depleted FBS (UC) or without FBS (UCw/o) on the mRNA expression levels of extracellular matrix related genes using the mouse chondrogenic cell line ATDC-5. We observed a deleterious effect on chondrogenic cells treated with UCw/o, showing higher mRNA expression levels of different metalloproteinases and decorin (Dcn) and lower collagen (Col1a1 and Col2a1) and aggrecan (Acan) mRNA levels. To elucidate whether this deleterious effect was induced by the EVs or by any proteins co-purified in the EV pellet, we used size exclusion chromatography (SEC) to further purify the EV pellet, obtaining an EV enriched fraction (EV or EVw/o) and a protein enriched fraction (Prot or Protw/o). Our results pointed that the negative effect on the chondrogenic cell line was due to the contaminant proteins coisolated with the EVs by ultracentrifugation and not from the EVs themselves. Thus, these results highlight the importance of working with well purified EV preparations to specifically achieve their therapeutic effect.
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