Extracellular vesicles derived from mesenchymal stromal cells mitigate intestinal toxicity in a mouse model of acute radiation syndrome

Alison Accarie, Bruno L'Homme, Mohamed Amine Benadjaoud, Sai Kiang Lim, Chandan Guha, Marc Benderitter, Radia Tamarat, Alexandra Sémont

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations


Background: Human exposure to high doses of radiation resulting in acute radiation syndrome and death can rapidly escalate to a mass casualty catastrophe in the event of nuclear accidents or terrorism. The primary reason is that there is presently no effective treatment option, especially for radiation-induced gastrointestinal syndrome. This syndrome results from disruption of mucosal barrier integrity leading to severe dehydration, blood loss, and sepsis. In this study, we tested whether extracellular vesicles derived from mesenchymal stromal cells (MSC) could reduce radiation-related mucosal barrier damage and reduce radiation-induced animal mortality. Methods: Human MSC-derived extracellular vesicles were intravenously administered to NUDE mice, 3, 24, and 48 h after lethal whole-body irradiation (10 Gy). Integrity of the small intestine epithelial barrier was assessed by morphologic analysis, immunostaining for tight junction protein (claudin-3), and in vivo permeability to 4 kDa FITC-labeled dextran. Renewal of the small intestinal epithelium was determined by quantifying epithelial cell apoptosis (TUNEL staining) and proliferation (Ki67 immunostaining). Statistical analyses were performed using one-way ANOVA followed by a Tukey test. Statistical analyses of mouse survival were performed using Kaplan-Meier and Cox methods. Results: We demonstrated that MSC-derived extracellular vesicle treatment reduced by 85% the instantaneous mortality risk in mice subjected to 10 Gy whole-body irradiation and so increased their survival time. This effect could be attributed to the efficacy of MSC-derived extracellular vesicles in reducing mucosal barrier disruption. We showed that the MSC-derived extracellular vesicles improved the renewal of the small intestinal epithelium by stimulating proliferation and inhibiting apoptosis of the epithelial crypt cells. The MSC-derived extracellular vesicles also reduced radiation-induced mucosal permeability as evidenced by the preservation of claudin-3 immunostaining at the tight junctions of the epithelium. Conclusions: MSC-derived extracellular vesicles promote epithelial repair and regeneration and preserve structural integrity of the intestinal epithelium in mice exposed to radiation-induced gastrointestinal toxicity. Our results suggest that the administration of MSC-derived extracellular vesicles could be an effective therapy for limiting acute radiation syndrome.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number371
JournalStem Cell Research and Therapy
Issue number1
StatePublished - Aug 27 2020


  • Acute radiation syndrome
  • Gastrointestinal syndrome
  • Intestinal epithelial barrier
  • Medical countermeasures
  • Mesenchymal stromal cell-derived extracellular vesicles

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Molecular Medicine
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology (miscellaneous)
  • Cell Biology


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