Classification of Preeclamptic Placental Extracellular Vesicles Using Femtosecond Laser Fabricated Nanoplasmonic Sensors

Extracellular Vesicles

Placental extracellular vesicles (EVs) play an essential role in pregnancy by protecting and transporting diverse biomolecules that aid in fetomaternal communication. However, in preeclampsia, they have also been implicated in contributing to disease progression. Despite their potential clinical value, current technologies cannot provide a rapid and effective means of differentiating between healthy and diseased placental EVs. To address this, a fabrication process called laser-induced nanostructuring of SERS-active thin films (LINST) was developed to produce scalable nanoplasmonic substrates that provide exceptional Raman signal enhancement and allow the biochemical fingerprinting of EVs. After validating the performance of LINST substrates with chemical standards, placental EVs from tissue explant cultures were characterized, demonstrating that preeclamptic and normotensive placental EVs have classifiably distinct Raman spectra following the application of advanced machine learning algorithms. Given the abundance of placental EVs in maternal circulation, these findings encourage immediate exploration of surface-enhanced Raman spectroscopy (SERS) of EVs as a promising method for preeclampsia liquid biopsies, while this novel fabrication process will provide a versatile and scalable substrate for many other SERS applications.

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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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