Circulating extracellular vesicles of patients with steroid-sensitive nephrotic syndrome have higher RAC1 and induce recapitulation of nephrotic syndrome phenotype in podocytes

Extracellular Vesicles

Since previous research suggests a role of a circulating factor in the pathogenesis of steroid-sensitive nephrotic syndrome (NS), we speculated that circulating plasma extracellular vesicles (EVs) are a candidate source of such a soluble mediator. Here, we aimed to characterize and try to delineate the effects of these EVs in vitro. Plasma EVs from 20 children with steroid-sensitive NS in relapse and remission, 10 healthy controls, and 6 disease controls were obtained by serial ultracentrifugation. Characterization of these EVs was performed by electron microscopy, flow cytometry, and Western blot analysis. Major proteins from plasma EVs were identified via mass spectrometry. Gene Ontology classification analysis and Ingenuity Pathway Analysis were performed on selectively expressed EV proteins during relapse. Immortalized human podocyte culture was used to detect the effects of EVs on podocytes. The protein content and particle number of plasma EVs were significantly increased during NS relapse. Relapse NS EVs selectively expressed proteins that involved actin cytoskeleton rearrangement. Among these, the level of RAC-GTP was significantly increased in relapse EVs compared with remission and disease control EVs. Relapse EVs were efficiently internalized by podocytes and induced significantly enhanced motility and albumin permeability. Moreover, relapse EVs induced significantly higher levels of RAC-GTP and phospho-p38 and decreased the levels of synaptopodin in podocytes. Circulating relapse EVs are biologically active molecules that carry active RAC1 as cargo and induce recapitulation of the NS phenotype in podocytes in vitro.NEW & NOTEWORTHY Up to now, the role of extracellular vesicles (EVs) in the pathogenesis of steroid-sensitive nephrotic syndrome (NS) has not been studied. Here, we found that relapse NS EVs contain significantly increased active RAC1, induce enhanced podocyte motility, and increase expression of RAC-GTP and phospho-p38 expression in vitro. These results suggest that plasma EVs are biologically active molecules in the pathogenesis of NS.

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Recent Publications

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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