Human bone marrow–derived mesenchymal stem cells (hMSCs) show tropism for brain tumors and may be a useful vehicle for drug or gene delivery to malignant gliomas. Recently, some microRNAs (miRNAs) have been shown to suppress the invasiveness of malignant gliomas.
To test their potential to become vehicles for the delivery of miRNA to malignant gliomas, hMSCs were engineered so that hMSC secretion of miRNAs that inhibit glioma cell invasion was enabled without altering the hMSC tropism for glioma cells.
In coculture, hMSCs cotransfected with hsa-miR-145-5p and -31-5p miRNAs showed markedly reduced invasion by U87 glioma cells in a contact-dependent manner both in vitro and ex vivo, with invasion of hMSCs cotransfected with these 2 miRNAs by the U87 cells reduced to 60.7% compared with control cells. According to a Matrigel invasion assay, the tropism of the hMSCs for U87 cells was not affected. In glioma cell lines U251 and LN229, hMSCs exhibited tropism in vivo, and invasion of hMSCs cotransfected with hsa-miR-145-5p and -31-5p was also significantly less than that of control cells. When U87 cells were coimplanted into the striatum of organotypic rat brain slices with hMSCs cotransfected with hsa-miR-145 and -31-5p, the relative invasive area decreased by 37.1%; interestingly, these U87 cells showed a change to a rounded morphology that was apparent at the invasion front. Whole-genome microarray analysis of the expression levels of 58,341 genes revealed that the co-overexpression of hsa-miR-145-5p and -31-5p downregulated FSCN1 expression in U87 cells.
This study demonstrates that miRNA overexpression in hMSCs can alter the function of glioma cells via contact-dependent transfer. Co-overexpression of multiple miRNAs may be a useful and novel therapeutic strategy. The study results suggest that hMSCs can be applied as a delivery vehicle for miRNAs.