Exosome-Based Molecular Transfer Activity of Macrophage-Like Cells Involves Viability of Oral Carcinoma Cells: Size Exclusion Chromatography and Concentration Filter Method

Extracellular Vesicles

Extracellular vesicles (EV) heterogeneity is a crucial issue in biology and medicine. In addition, tumor-associated macrophages are key components in cancer microenvironment and immunology. We developed a combination method of size exclusion chromatography and concentration filters (SEC-CF) and aimed to characterize different EV types by their size, cargo types, and functions. A human monocytic leukemia cell line THP-1 was differentiated to CD14-positive macrophage-like cells by stimulation with PMA (phorbol 12-myristate 13-acetate) but not M1 or M2 types. Using the SEC-CF method, the following five EV types were fractionated from the culture supernatant of macrophage-like cells: (i) rare large EVs (500-3000 nm) reminiscent of apoptosomes, (ii) EVs (100-500 nm) reminiscent of microvesicles (or microparticles), (iii) EVs (80-300 nm) containing CD9-positive large exosomes (EXO-L), (iv) EVs (20-200 nm) containing unidentified vesicles/particles, and (v) EVs (10-70 nm) containing CD63/HSP90-positive small exosomes (EXO-S) and particles. For a molecular transfer assay, we developed a THP-1-based stable cell line producinga GFP-fused palmitoylation signal (palmGFP) associated with the membrane. The THP1/palmGFP cells were differentiated into macrophages producing palmGFP-contained EVs. The macrophage/palmGFP-secreted EXO-S and EXO-L efficiently transferred the palmGFP to receiver human oral carcinoma cells (HSC-3/palmTomato), as compared to other EV types. In addition, the macrophage-secreted EXO-S and EXO-L significantly reduced the cell viability (ATP content) in oral carcinoma cells. Taken together, the SEC-CF method is useful for the purification of large and small exosomes with higher molecular transfer activities, enabling efficient molecular delivery to target cells.

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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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