Fibroblast growth factor-2 bound to specific dermal fibroblast-derived extracellular vesicles is protected from degradation

Extracellular Vesicles

Fibroblast growth factor-2 (FGF2) has multiple roles in cutaneous wound healing but its natural low stability prevents the development of its use in skin repair therapies. Here we show that FGF2 binds the outer surface of dermal fibroblast (DF)-derived extracellular vesicles (EVs) and this association protects FGF2 from fast degradation. EVs isolated from DF cultured in the presence of FGF2 harbor FGF2 on their surface and FGF2 can bind purified EVs in absence of cells. Remarkably, FGF2 binding to EVs is restricted to a specific subpopulation of EVs, which do not express CD63 and CD81 markers. Treatment of DF with FGF2-EVs activated ERK and STAT signaling pathways and increased cell proliferation and migration. Local injection of FGF2-EVs improved wound healing in mice. We further demonstrated that binding to EVs protects FGF2 from both thermal and proteolytic degradation, thus maintaining FGF2 function. This suggests that EVs protect soluble factors from degradation and increase their stability and half-life. These results reveal a novel aspect of EV function and suggest EVs as a potential tool for delivering FGF2 in skin healing therapies.

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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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