Neural Stem Cell Exosomes Can Carry Protein Cargo Across Blood-Brain Barrier in Model System; Results Suggest Exosomes May Be Effective Vehicle for Moving Drugs from Blood into Brain

Researchers have shown that certain natural nanovesicles, namely exosomes derived from c17.2 neural stem cells (NSCs), can efficiently carry a protein cargo across an in vitro model of the blood-brain barrier (BBB) [the model BBB was made up of human brain microvascular endothelial cells (hCMEC/D3)]. This is particularly significant because drug delivery to the brain has, thus far, been greatly limited by the BBB, which tightly regulates the passage of molecules from blood to the brain and vice versa. The new results were published online on September 16, 2020 in the European Journal of Neuroscience ( The article is titled “Heparan Sulfate Proteoglycan‐Mediated Dynamin‐Dependent Transport of Neural Stem Cell Exosomes in an In Vitro Blood–Brain Barrier Model.” The researchers showed that the exosomes are primarily taken up in brain microvascular endothelial cells via dynamin-dependent endocytosis, while heparan sulfate proteoglycans (HSPGs) on these endothelial cells act as receptors for the exosomes. The authors suggest that their data support the development of exosomes as delivery vehicles for the treatment of brain disorders via intravenous administration, obviating the need for invasive intracerebral or intracerebroventricular administration routes. Moreover, active HSPG targeting of nanoparticles, including exosomes, may be exploited for effective crossing of the BBB. The authors of the article are Bhagyashree S. Joshi (photo), PhD candidate, and her advisor Inge S. Zuhorn, PhD, Associate Professor, from the Department of Biomedical Engineering, University of Groningen, University Medical Center Groningen, The Netherlands. [European Journal of Neuroscience article]
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