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Stem Cells International
Volume 2017 (2017), Article ID 5785436, 14 pages
Review Article

Potential Role of Exosomes in Mending a Broken Heart: Nanoshuttles Propelling Future Clinical Therapeutics Forward

Department of Emergency Medicine, College of Medicine, The Davis Heart and Lung Research Institute, The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, Columbus, OH 43210, USA

Correspondence should be addressed to Mahmood Khan

Received 30 June 2017; Accepted 13 September 2017; Published 15 October 2017

Academic Editor: Mohsin Khan

Copyright © 2017 Julie A. Dougherty et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Stem cell transplantation therapy is a promising adjunct for regenerating damaged heart tissue; however, only modest improvements in cardiac function have been observed due to poor survival of transplanted cells in the ischemic heart. Therefore, there remains an unmet need for therapies that can aid in attenuating cardiac damage. Recent studies have demonstrated that exosomes released by stem cells could serve as a potential cell-free therapeutic for cardiac repair. These exosomes/nanoshuttles, once thought to be merely a method of waste disposal, have been shown to play a crucial role in physiological functions including short- and long-distance intercellular communication. In this review, we have summarized studies demonstrating the potential role of exosomes in improving cardiac function, attenuating cardiac fibrosis, stimulating angiogenesis, and modulating miRNA expression. Furthermore, exosomes carry an important cargo of miRNAs and proteins that could play an important role as a diagnostic marker for cardiovascular disease post-myocardial infarction. Although there is promising evidence from preclinical studies that exosomes released by stem cells could serve as a potential cell-free therapeutic for myocardial repair, there are several challenges that need to be addressed before exosomes could be fully utilized as off-the-shelf therapeutics for cardiac repair.