Intranasal delivery of mesenchymal stem cell secretome repairs the brain of Alzheimer’s mice

Giulia Santamaria, Edoardo Brandi, Pietro La Vitola, Federica Grandi, Giovanni Ferrara, Francesca Pischiutta, Gloria Vegliante, Elisa R. Zanier, Francesca Re, Antonio Uccelli, Gianluigi Forloni, Nicole Kerlero de Rosbo, Claudia Balducci

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The multiplicity of systems affected in Alzheimer’s disease (AD) brains calls for multi-target therapies. Although mesenchymal stem cells (MSC) are promising candidates, their clinical application is limited because of risks related to their direct implantation in the host. This could be overcome by exploiting their paracrine action. We herein demonstrate that in vivo systemic administration of secretome collected from MSC exposed in vitro to AD mouse brain homogenates (MSC-CS), fully replicates the cell-mediated neuroreparative effects in APP/PS1 AD mice. We found a complete but transient memory recovery by 7 days, which vanished by 14 days, after a single MSC-CS intravenous administration in 12-month or 22–24-month-old mice. Treatment significantly reduced plaque load, microglia activation, and expression of cytokines in astrocytes in younger, but not aged, mice at 7 days. To optimize efficacy, we established a sustained treatment protocol in aged mice through intranasal route. Once-weekly intranasal administration of MSC-CS induced persistent memory recovery, with dramatic reduction of plaques surrounded by a lower density of β-amyloid oligomers. Gliosis and the phagocytic marker CD68 were decreased. We found a higher neuronal density in cortex and hippocampus, associated with a reduction in hippocampal shrinkage and a longer lifespan indicating healthier conditions of MSC-CS-treated compared to vehicle-treated APP/PS1 mice. Our data prove that MSC-CS displays a great multi-level therapeutic potential, and lay the foundation for identifying the therapeutic secretome bioreactors leading to the development of an efficacious multi-reparative cocktail drug, towards abrogating the need for MSC implantation and risks related to their direct use.

Original languageEnglish
JournalCell Death and Differentiation
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2020

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


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