Promoting muscle regeneration through stem cell therapy has potential risks. We investigated the effect of umbilical cord mesenchymal stem cells (UMSCs) Exosomes (Exo) Follistatin on muscle regeneration.

Material and methods:
The Exo was derived from UMSCs cells and was utilized to affect the mice muscle injury model and C2C12 cells myotubes atrophy model. The western blot, qRT-PCR and IF were utilized to determine the effects of Exo on the levels of Follistatin, MyHC, MyoD, Myostatin, MuRF1, MAFbx, α-SMA, Collagen I, Smad2, and AKT. In addition, HE and Masson staining were used to assess muscle tissue damage in mice.

The level of Follistatin in Exo was significantly higher than that in UMSCs. UMSCs-Exo increased the levels of Follistatin, MyHC, MyoD, and p-Smad2 and decreased the levels of Myostatin, MuRF1, MAFbx, α-SMA, Collagen I, p-AKT, and p-mTOR in mice or C2C12 cells. In addition, UMSCs-Exo decreased levels of inflammation and fibrosis in mice. However, UMSCs-Exo-si-Follistatin reversed the effect of UMSCs-Exo. Transfection of oe-Smad2 up-regulated the protein levels of Collagen I, α-SMA, and changed the ratio of p-Smad2/Smad2 expression to 0.33, and 0.34, 0.73. LY294002 decreased the levels of MyHC, MyoD, and the ratio of p-AKT/ AKT and p-mTOR/mTOR expression to 0.12, 0.17, 0.33, and 0.41, increased the levels of MuRF1 and MAFbx to 0.36 and 0.34.

This study demonstrated that Follistatin in UMSCs-Exo inhibits fibrosis and promotes muscle regeneration in mice by regulating Smad and AKT signaling.