Active antithrombin glycoforms are selectively physiosorbed on plasma extracellular vesicles

Extracellular Vesicles

Antithrombin (AT) is a glycoprotein produced by the liver and a principal antagonist of active clotting proteases. A deficit in AT function leads to AT qualitative deficiency, challenging to diagnose. Here we report that active AT may travel physiosorbed on the surface of plasma extracellular vesicles (EVs), contributing to form the “EV‐protein corona.” The corona is enriched in specific AT glycoforms, thus suggesting glycosylation to play a key role in AT partitioning between EVs and plasma. Differences in AT glycoform composition of the corona of EVs separated from plasma of healthy and AT qualitative deficiency‐affected subjects were also noticed. This suggests deconstructing the plasma into its nanostructured components, as EVs, could suggest novel directions to unravel pathophysiological mechanisms.

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Cigarette smoke (CS) represents one of the most relevant environmental risk factors for several chronic pathologies. Tissue damage caused by CS exposure is mediated, at least in part, by oxidative stress induced by its toxic and pro-oxidant components. Evidence demonstrates that extracellular vesicles (EVs) released by various cell types exposed to CS extract (CSE) are characterized by altered biochemical cargo and gained pathological properties. In the present study, we evaluated the content of oxidized proteins and phospholipid fatty acid profiles of EVs released by human bronchial epithelial BEAS-2B cells treated with CSE. This specific molecular characterization has hitherto not been performed. After confirmation that CSE reduces viability of BEAS-2B cells and elevates intracellular ROS levels, in a dose-dependent manner, we demonstrated that 24 h exposure at 1% CSE, a concentration that only slight modifies cell viability but increases ROS levels, was able to increase carbonylated protein levels in cells and released EVs. The release of oxidatively modified proteins via EVs might represent a mechanism used by cells to remove toxic proteins in order to avoid their intracellular overloading. Moreover, 1% CSE induced only few changes in the fatty acid asset in BEAS-2B cell membrane phospholipids, whereas several rearrangements were observed in EVs released by CSE-treated cells. The impact of changes in acyl chain composition of CSE-EVs accounted for the increased saturation levels of phospholipids, a membrane parameter that might influence EV stability, uptake and, at least in part, EV-mediated biological effects. The present in vitro study adds new information concerning the biochemical composition of CSE-related EVs, useful to predict their biological effects on target cells. Furthermore, the information regarding the presence of oxidized proteins and the specific membrane features of CSE-related EVs can be useful to define the utilization of circulating EVs as marker for diagnosing of CS-induced lung damage and/or CS-related diseases.

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