Longitudinal characterization of circulating extracellular vesicles and small RNA during simian immunodeficiency virus infection and antiretroviral therapy

Extracellular Vesicles

ABSTRACT Objectives Latent infection by human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) hinders viral eradication despite effective antiretroviral treatment (ART), Amongst proposed contributors to viral latency are cellular small RNAs that have also been proposed to shuttle between cells in extracellular vesicles (EVs). Thus, we profiled EV small RNAs during different infection phases to understand the potential relationship between these EV-associated small RNAs and viral infection. Design A well characterized simian immunodeficiency virus (SIV)/macaque model of HIV was used to profile EV-enriched blood plasma fractions harvested during pre-infection, acute infection, latent infection/ART treatment, and rebound after ART interruption. Methods Measurement of EV concentration, size distribution, and morphology was complemented with qPCR array for small RNA expression, followed by individual qPCR validations. Iodixanol density gradients were used to separate EV subtypes and virions. Results Plasma EV particle counts correlated with viral load and peaked during acute infection. However, SIV gag RNA detection showed that virions did not fully explain this peak. EV microRNAs miR-181a, miR-342-3p, and miR-29a decreased with SIV infection and remained downregulated in latency. Interestingly, small nuclear RNA U6 had a tight association with viral load peak. Conclusions This study is the first to monitor how EV concentration and EV small RNA expression change dynamically in acute viral infection, latency, and rebound in a carefully controlled animal model. These changes may also reveal regulatory roles in retroviral infection and latency.

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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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