• Open Access

Human Liver Stem Cell-Derived Microvesicles Inhibit Hepatoma Growth in SCID Mice by Delivering Antitumor MicroRNAs§


  • Author contributions: V.F. and F.C.: experiment design, collection and assembly of data, data analysis and interpretation, and manuscript writing; M.B.H., M.C.D., S.B., and C.C.: collection and/or assembly of data and data analysis and interpretation; B.C.: collection and/or assembly of data; R.R. and M.S.: provision of study material and data analysis and interpretation; C.T.: data analysis and interpretation, financial support, and manuscript writing; G.C.: conception and design, financial support, data analysis and interpretation, and manuscript writing. V.F. and F.C. contributed equally to this work.

  • Disclosure of potential conflicts of interest is found at the end of this article.

  • §

    First published online in STEM CELLSEXPRESS June 26, 2012.

  • Re-use of this article is permitted in accordance with the Terms and Conditions set out at http://wileyonlinelibrary.com/onlineopen#OnlineOpen_Terms


Microvesicles (MVs) play a pivotal role in cell-to-cell communication. Recent studies demonstrated that MVs may transfer genetic information between cells. Here, we show that MVs derived from human adult liver stem cells (HLSC) may reprogram in vitro HepG2 hepatoma and primary hepatocellular carcinoma cells by inhibiting their growth and survival. In vivo intratumor administration of MVs induced regression of ectopic tumors developed in SCID mice. We suggest that the mechanism of action is related to the delivery of microRNAs (miRNAs) from HLSC-derived MVs (MV-HLSC) to tumor cells on the basis of the following evidence: (a) the rapid, CD29-mediated internalization of MV-HLSC in HepG2 and the inhibition of tumor cell growth after MV uptake; (b) the transfer by MV-HLSC of miRNAs with potential antitumor activity that was downregulated in HepG2 cells with respect to normal hepatocytes; (c) the abrogation of the MV-HLSC antitumor effect after MV pretreatment with RNase or generation of MVs depleted of miRNAs; (d) the relevance of selected miRNAs was proven by transfecting HepG2 with miRNA mimics. The antitumor effect of MV-HLSC was also observed in tumors other than liver such as lymphoblastoma and glioblastoma. These results suggest that the delivery of selected miRNAs by MVs derived from stem cells may inhibit tumor growth and stimulate apoptosis. Stem Cells2012;30:1985–1998