• Mucopolysaccharidosis;
  • Umbilical cord mesenchymal stem cells;
  • Cornea;
  • Glycosaminoglycans;
  • Exosomes


Mucopolysaccharidosis (MPS) are a family of related disorders caused by a mutation in one of the lysosomal exoglycosidases which leads to the accumulation of glycosaminoglycans (GAGs). MPS VII, caused by a mutation in β-glucuronidase, manifests hepatomegaly, skeletal dysplasia, short stature, corneal clouding, and developmental delay. Current treatment regimens for MPS are not effective for treating corneal clouding and impaired mental development. We hypothesized that human umbilical mesenchymal stem cells (UMSCs) transplanted into the corneal stroma could participate in the catabolism of GAGs providing a means of cell therapy for MPS. For such treatment, human UMSCs were intrastromally transplanted into corneas of MPS VII mice. UMSC transplantation restored the dendritic and hexagonal morphology of host keratocytes and endothelial cells, respectively, and in vivo confocal microscopy (HRT-II) revealed reduced corneal haze. Immunohistochemistry using antibodies against heparan sulfate and chondroitin sulfate chains as well as lysosomal-associated membrane protein 2 revealed a decrease in GAG content and both lysosomal number and size in the treated corneas. Labeling UMSC intracellular compartments prior to transplantation revealed the distribution of UMSC vesicles throughout the corneal stroma and endothelium. An in vitro coculture assay between skin fibroblasts isolated from MPS VII mice and UMSC demonstrated that neutral vesicles released by the UMSC are taken up by the fibroblasts and proceed to fuse with the acidic lysosomes. Therefore, transplanted UMSCs participate both in extracellular GAG turnover and enable host keratocytes to catabolize accumulated GAG products, suggesting that UMSC could be a novel alternative for treating corneal defects associated with MPS and other congenital metabolic disorders. Stem Cells 2013;31:2116–2126