Matrix-bound nanovesicles prevent ischemia-induced retinal ganglion cell axon degeneration and death and preserve visual function

Yolandi van der Merwe, Anne E. Faust, Ecem T. Sakalli, Caroline C. Westrick, George Hussey, Ian P. Conner, Valeria L.N. Fu, Stephen F. Badylak, Michael B. Steketee*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

38 Scopus citations


Injury to retinal ganglion cells (RGC), central nervous system neurons that relay visual information to the brain, often leads to RGC axon degeneration and permanently lost visual function. Herein this study shows matrix-bound nanovesicles (MBV), a distinct class of extracellular nanovesicle localized specifically to the extracellular matrix (ECM) of healthy tissues, can neuroprotect RGCs and preserve visual function after severe, intraocular pressure (IOP) induced ischemia in rat. Intravitreal MBV injections attenuated IOP-induced RGC axon degeneration and death, protected RGC axon connectivity to visual nuclei in the brain, and prevented loss in retinal function as shown by histology, anterograde axon tracing, manganese-enhanced magnetic resonance imaging, and electroretinography. In the optic nerve, MBV also prevented IOP-induced decreases in growth associated protein-43 and IOP-induced increases in glial fibrillary acidic protein. In vitro studies showed MBV suppressed pro-inflammatory signaling by activated microglia and astrocytes, stimulated RGC neurite growth, and neuroprotected RGCs from neurotoxic media conditioned by pro-inflammatory astrocytes. Thus, MBV can positively modulate distinct signaling pathways (e.g., inflammation, cell death, and axon growth) in diverse cell types. Since MBV are naturally derived, bioactive factors present in numerous FDA approved devices, MBV may be readily useful, not only experimentally, but also clinically as immunomodulatory, neuroprotective factors for treating trauma or disease in the retina as well as other CNS tissues.

Original languageEnglish
Article number3482
JournalScientific Reports
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1 Dec 2019
Externally publishedYes


Dive into the research topics of 'Matrix-bound nanovesicles prevent ischemia-induced retinal ganglion cell axon degeneration and death and preserve visual function'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this