1. Shanghai Jiao Tong Affiliated Sixth People's Hospital, School of Biomedical Engineering, Shanghai Jiao Tong University, Shanghai 200030, China.
2. Department of Neurology, Renji Hospital of Shanghai Jiao Tong University, No. 160 Pujian Rd, Shanghai 200127, China.
3. Shanghai Jiao Tong Affiliated Sixth People's Hospital, Shanghai Jiao Tong University, Shanghai 200030, China.
4. Department of Neurology, Ruijin Hospital, School of Medicine, Shanghai Jiao Tong University, Shanghai 200025, China.
*These authors contributed equally to this work.
Rationale: Glial scars present a major obstacle for neuronal regeneration after stroke. Thus, approaches to promote their degradation and inhibit their formation are beneficial for stroke recovery. The interaction of microglia and astrocytes is known to be involved in glial scar formation after stroke; however, how microglia affect glial scar formation remains unclear.
Methods: Mice were treated daily with M2 microglial small extracellular vesicles through tail intravenous injections from day 1 to day 7 after middle cerebral artery occlusion. Glial scar, infarct volume, neurological score were detected after ischemia. microRNA and related protein were examined in peri-infarct areas of the brain following ischemia.
Results: M2 microglial small extracellular vesicles reduced glial scar formation and promoted recovery after stroke and were enriched in miR-124. Furthermore, M2 microglial small extracellular vesicle treatment decreased the expression of the astrocyte proliferation gene signal transducer and activator of transcription 3, one of the targets of miR-124, and glial fibrillary acidic protein and inhibited astrocyte proliferation both in vitro and in vivo. It also decreased Notch 1 expression and increased Sox2 expression in astrocytes, which suggested that astrocytes had transformed into neuronal progenitor cells. Finally, miR-124 knockdown in M2 microglial small extracellular vesicles blocked their effects on glial scars and stroke recovery.
Conclusions: Our results showed, for the first time, that microglia regulate glial scar formation via small extracellular vesicles, indicating that M2 microglial small extracellular vesicles could represent a new therapeutic approach for stroke.
Keywords: astrocyte, small extracellular vesicles, glial scar, ischemic stroke, microglia