Assessment of anti-inflammatory bioactivity of extracellular vesicles is susceptible to error via media component contamination

Extracellular Vesicles

Abstract Extracellular vesicles (EVs) are widely implicated as novel diagnostic and therapeutic modalities for a wide range of diseases. Thus, optimization of EV biomanufacturing is of high interest. In the course of developing parameters for a HEK293T EV production platform, we examined the combinatorial effects of cell culture conditions (i.e., static vs dynamic) and isolation techniques (i.e., ultracentrifugation vs tangential flow filtration vs size-exclusion chromatography) on functional characteristics of HEK293T EVs, including anti-inflammatory bioactivity using a well-established LPS-stimulated mouse macrophage model. We unexpectedly found that, depending on culture condition and isolation strategy, HEK293T EVs appeared to significantly suppress the secretion of pro-inflammatory cytokines (i.e., IL-6, RANTES) in the stimulated mouse macrophages. Further examination revealed that these results were most likely due to fetal bovine serum (FBS) EV contamination in HEK293T EV preparations. Thus, future research assessing the anti-inflammatory effects of EVs should be designed to account for this phenomenon.

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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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