What Are Exosomes and How Do They Function?

As we age, our knee joints gradually deteriorate, and the articular cartilage at the ends of bones is worn down, causing pain and inflammation. In regenerative medicine, exosome therapy is a novel non-invasive treatment for degenerative conditions like osteoarthritis by stimulating new cell growth.

Exosomes are extracellular vesicles that enable cell-to-cell communication, carrying information and instructions from one cell to another in the form of chemical messaging molecules or mRNA snippets.

Exosomes derived from stem cells contribute to cartilage regeneration by regulating the immune response, reducing cell death, and increasing cell proliferation. They're most commonly produced by separating lab-cultured stem cells from the exosomes and the surrounding liquid. The liquid is subsequently ultra-centrifuged to increase the small number of exosomes through concentration. 

Exosome treatment is administered through injections in the affected joint, and early clinical results show that cartilage and bone damage can be significantly reversed and almost completely restored after 12 weeks. Athletes opt for this type of treatment to increase their recovery rate following injuries that would sideline them for a long time.

Although further research is required to optimize exosome therapy, they provide a novel treatment approach to close the gap between conservative and surgical procedures and have been shown to:

  • Help with wound recovery
  • Increase immunity and reduce infection
  • Mitigate inflammation
  • Repair injured tissue
  • Stimulate cellular renewal and specialization