†These authors contributed equally.
Academic Editors: Antonio Barbieri and Francesca Bruzzese
Background: Castration-resistant prostate cancer (PCa; CRPC) has a poor response to androgen deprivation therapy and is considered an incurable disease. MicroRNA (miR)-lethal 7c (let-7c) was implied to be a tumor suppressor in PCa, and treatment with exogenous let-7c targets both cancer cells and their associated mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) to prevent CRPC progression and metastasis. Exosomes are nanometer-sized membrane-bound vesicles which have an absolute predominance in biocompatibility for drug delivery and gene therapy by mediating cell-to-cell communication. By utilizing the intrinsic tumor-targeting property of MSCs, this study aimed to investigate the feasibility of MSC-derived exosomes as an exogenous miR delivery system to target CRPC, using miR let-7c as an example. Methods: Bioinformatics analysis was performed to observe miR-let-7c expression in clinical samples by utilizing the GEO database. MSC-derived exosomes were collected from a human bone marrow-derived MSC cell line after cell transfection with either a pre-miR negative control or pre-miR-let-7c, and further characterized through nanoparticle tracking analysis and Western blotting. miR-let-7c expression was determined using RT-qPCR, and the phenotypic effects of both naked and MSC-exosome-encapsulated let-7c on CRPC cells (PC3 and CWR22Rv1) were determined by WST-1 cell proliferation assay and wound healing migration assay. Results: miR-let-7c was downregulated in metastatic PCa and high grade group patients. miR-let-7c expression was confirmed to be downregulated in PCa cell lines, with massively decreased in most metastatic CRPC-like cells. Exogenous miR-let-7c can be successfully packaged into MSC exosomes. Treatment with either naked or MSC-exosome-encapsulated miR-let-7c resulted in significant reductions in cell proliferation and migration in CRPC-like PC3 and CWR22Rv1 cells. Conclusions: MSC-derived exosomes could serve as a therapeutic let-7c delivery system to target CRPC.