Comparison of interferometric light microscopy with nanoparticle tracking analysis for the study of extracellular vesicles and bacteriophages

Extracellular Vesicles

ABSTRACT Research on extracellular vesicles (EVs) and bacteriophages (phages) has been steadily expanding over the past decades as many of their roles in medicine, biology, and ecosystems have been unveiled. Such interest has brought about the need for new tools to quantify and determine the sizes of these biological nanoparticles. A new device based on interferometric light microscopy (ILM), the Videodrop, was recently developed for this purpose. Here, we compared this new device to two nanoparticle tracking analysis (NTA) devices, the NanoSight and the ZetaView, for the analysis of EVs and phages. We used EVs isolated from bacteria, fecal samples, bovine milk and human cells, and phages of various sizes and shape, ranging from 30 to 120 nm of diameter. While NTA instruments correctly enumerated most phages, the Videodrop detected only the largest one, indicating a lower sensitivity threshold compared to the NTA devices. Nevertheless, the performance of the Videodrop compared favorably to that of the NTA devices for the determination of the concentration of eukaryotic EV samples. The NanoSight instrument provided the most precise size distributions but the Videodrop was by far the most time-saving device, making it worthy of consideration for studies conducted on a large number of samples.

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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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