Fibroblast growth factor-2 bound to specific dermal fibroblast-derived extracellular vesicles is protected from degradation
AbstractFibroblast growth factor-2 (FGF2) has multiple roles in cutaneous wound healing but its natural low stability prevents the development of its use in skin repair therapies. Here we show that FGF2 binds the outer surface of dermal fibroblast (DF)-derived extracellular vesicles (EVs) and this association protects FGF2 from fast degradation. EVs isolated from DF cultured in the presence of FGF2 harbor FGF2 on their surface and FGF2 can bind purified EVs in absence of cells. Remarkably, FGF2 binding to EVs is restricted to a specific subpopulation of EVs, which do not express CD63 and CD81 markers. Treatment of DF with FGF2-EVs activated ERK and STAT signaling pathways and increased cell proliferation and migration. Local injection of FGF2-EVs improved wound healing in mice. We further demonstrated that binding to EVs protects FGF2 from both thermal and proteolytic degradation, thus maintaining FGF2 function. This suggests that EVs protect soluble factors from degradation and increase their stability and half-life. These results reveal a novel aspect of EV function and suggest EVs as a potential tool for delivering FGF2 in skin healing therapies.