Molecular evaluation of five different isolation methods for extracellular vesicles reveals different clinical applicability and subcellular origin

Extracellular Vesicles

Extracellular vesicles (EVs) are increasingly tested as therapeutic vehicles and biomarkers, but still EV subtypes are not fully characterised. To isolate EVs with few co-isolated entities, a combination of methods is needed. However, this is time-consuming and requires large sample volumes, often not feasible in most clinical studies or in studies where small sample volumes are available. Therefore, we compared EVs rendered by five commonly used methods based on different principles from conditioned cell medium and 250 μl or 3 ml plasma, that is, precipitation (ExoQuick ULTRA), membrane affinity (exoEasy Maxi Kit), size-exclusion chromatography (qEVoriginal), iodixanol gradient (OptiPrep), and phosphatidylserine affinity (MagCapture). EVs were characterised by electron microscopy, Nanoparticle Tracking Analysis, Bioanalyzer, flow cytometry, and LC-MS/MS. The different methods yielded samples of different morphology, particle size, and proteomic profile. For the conditioned medium, Izon 35 isolated the highest number of EV proteins followed by exoEasy, which also isolated fewer non-EV proteins. For the plasma samples, exoEasy isolated a high number of EV proteins and few non-EV proteins, while Izon 70 isolated the most EV proteins. We conclude that no method is perfect for all studies, rather, different methods are suited depending on sample type and interest in EV subtype, in addition to sample volume and budget.

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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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