Urine-derived exosomes from individuals with IPF carry pro-fibrotic cargo

Extracellular Vesicles

Background MicroRNAs (miRNA) and other components contained in extracellular vesicles may reflect the presence of a disease. Lung tissue, sputum and sera of individuals with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) show alterations in miRNA expression. We designed this study to test whether urine and/or tissue derived exosomal miRNAs from individuals with IPF carry cargo that can promote fibrosis. Methods Exosomes were isolated from urine (U-IPFexo), lung tissue myofibroblasts (MF-IPFexo), serum from individuals with IPF (n=16) and age/sex-matched controls without lung disease (n=10). We analyzed microRNA expression of isolated exosomes and their in vivo bio-distribution. We investigated the effect on ex vivo skin wound healing and in in vivo mouse lung models. Results U-IPFexo or MF-IPFexo expressed miR let-7d, miR-29a-5p, miR 181b-3p and miR-199a-3p consistent with previous reports of miRNA expression obtained from lung tissue/sera from patients with IPF. In vivo bio-distribution experiments detected bioluminescent exosomes in the lung of normal C57Bl6 mice within 5 minutes after intravenous infusion, followed by distribution to other organs irrespective of exosome source. Exosomes labeled with gold nanoparticles and imaged by transmission electron microscopy were visualized in alveolar epithelial type I and type II cells. Treatment of human and mouse lung punches obtained from control, non-fibrotic lungs with either U-IPFexo or MF-IPFexo produced a fibrotic phenotype. A fibrotic phenotype was also induced in a human ex vivo skin model and in in vivo lung models. Conclusions Our results provide evidence of a systemic feature of IPF whereby exosomes contain pro-fibrotic miRNAs when obtained from a fibrotic source and interfere with response to tissue injury as measured in skin and lung models. Funding This work was supported in part by Lester and Sue Smith Foundation and The Samrick Family Foundation and NIH grants R21 AG060338 (SE and MKG), U01 DK119085 (IP, RS, MTC).

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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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