Intranasal delivery of mesenchymal stem cells-derived extracellular vesicles for the treatment of neurological diseases

Shay Herman, Idan Fishel, Daniel Offen*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Neurological disorders are diseases of the central nervous system (CNS), characterized by a progressive degeneration of cells and deficiencies in neural functions. Mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) are a promising therapy for diseases and disorders of the CNS. Increasing evidence suggests that their beneficial abilities can be attributed to their paracrine secretion of extracellular vesicles (EVs). Administration of EVs that contain a mixture of proteins, lipids, and nucleic acids, resembling the secretome of MSCs, has been shown to mimic most of the effects of the parental cells. Moreover, the small size and safety profile of EVs provide a number of advantages over cell transplantation. Intranasal (IN) administration of EVs has been established as an effective and reliable way to bypass the blood-brain barrier and deliver drugs to the CNS. In addition to pharmacological drugs, EVs can be loaded with a diverse range of cargo designed to modulate gene expression and protein functions in recipient cells, and lead to immunomodulation, neurogenesis, neuroprotection, and degradation of protein aggregates. In this review, we will explore the proposed physiological pathways by which EVs migrate through the nasal route to the CNS where they can actively target a region of injury or inflammation and exert their therapeutic effects. We will summarize the functional outcomes observed in animal models of neurological diseases following IN treatment with MSC-derived EVs. We will also examine key mechanisms that have been suggested to mediate the beneficial effects of EV-based therapy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1589-1600
Number of pages12
JournalStem Cells
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 2021


  • experimental models
  • gene therapy
  • in vivo tracking
  • mesenchymal stem cells
  • nervous system
  • neuroimmune
  • transplantation


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