Enhanced Delivery of Rose Bengal by Amino Acids Starvation and Exosomes Inhibition in Human Astrocytoma Cells to Potentiate Anticancer Photodynamic Therapy Effects

Extracellular Vesicles

Photodynamic therapy (PDT) is a promising anticancer strategy based on the light energy stimulation of photosensitizers (PS) molecules within a malignant cell. Among a multitude of recently challenged PS, Rose bengal (RB) has been already reported as an inducer of cytotoxicity in different tumor cells. However, RB displays a low penetration capability across cell membranes. We have therefore developed a short-term amino acids starvation protocol that significantly increases RB uptake in human astrocytoma cells compared to normal rat astrocytes. Following induced starvation uptake, RB is released outside cells by the exocytosis of extracellular vesicles (EVs). Thus, we have introduced a specific pharmacological treatment, based on the GW4869 exosomes inhibitor, to interfere with RB extracellular release. These combined treatments allow significantly reduced nanomolar amounts of administered RB and a decrease in the time interval required for PDT stimulation. The overall conditions affected astrocytoma viability through the activation of apoptotic pathways. In conclusion, we have developed for the first time a combined scheme to simultaneously increase the RB uptake in human astrocytoma cells, reduce the extracellular release of the drug by EVs, and improve the effectiveness of PDT-based treatments. Importantly, this strategy might be a valuable approach to efficiently deliver other PS or chemotherapeutic drugs in tumor cells.

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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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