Proteomic profiling of serum small extracellular vesicles reveals immune signatures of children with pneumonia

Extracellular Vesicles

Background: Pneumonia is the leading cause of death in young children globally. However, the underlying pathological mechanism of pediatric pneumonia remains unclear. In infection disease contexts, small extracellular vesicles (sEVs) have been shown to be a useful source of markers for pathogenesis and immune response. We hypothesized that functional molecules such as protein harbored by sEVs would provide mechanistic insights into the immune response in children with pneumonia. Methods: We isolated sEVs from serum collected from children with and without pneumonia, performed proteomic analysis of the sEVs with label-free mass spectrometry, and then conducted functional enrichment analysis of proteomic data. Results: We identified fifteen differentially expressed proteins and ten unique proteins in children with pneumonia as compared to healthy children. In the pneumonia group, immune-related processes and pathways were positively enriched as upregulated proteins were involved in neutrophil activation, complement regulation, defense against bacteria, humoral immune response and regulation of immune effector processes However, pathways associated with tissue development and extracellular matrix remodeling were negatively enriched, as downregulated proteins were linked to extracellular matrix structure and cell adhesions. Conclusions: Our findings provided insights into host responses to pathogen infection, which has contributed to understanding the pathogenesis of children with pneumonia. Furthermore, our studies suggested that serum sEVs proteins could be considered a potential source of biomarkers for diagnosing pediatric pneumonia.

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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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