Smaller extracellular vesicles are released from pancreatic cancer cells by the alteration of the lipid composition under low glucose conditions

Extracellular Vesicles

Extracellular vesicles (EVs) released from cells into the blood facilitate intercellular communication and serve as new biomarkers to understand the pathophysiology of several conditions. Although the importance of the cargo inside EVs has been extensively studied, the sizes of EVs that vary with different types of cancers are relatively poorly explored. Here, we show that pancreatic cancer cell-derived EVs are significantly smaller than non-cancer cell-derived EVs. The smaller size distribution of these EVs was confirmed by specifically isolating and examining tumor-derived EVs from the heterogeneous EV population isolated from the sera of patients with pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma. In vitro analyses mimicking tumor microenvironment conditions revealed that low glucose conditions reduced the size distribution and increased the level of unsaturated fatty acids in the tumor-derived EVs. Because the lipid composition defines the fluidity of the membrane, the results suggest that the alterations in the size of EVs could be due to the alteration of the fluidity and stability of the membrane covering the EVs. Furthermore, the uptake of smaller EVs by recipient cells was increased, which may lead to enhanced functional results. These results provide fundamental insights into the factors defining the size of EVs, which may be important for developing cancer screening methods and understanding cancer-related pathophysiology.

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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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