Exosomes are secreted at similar densities by M21 and PC3 human cancer cells and show paclitaxel solubility

TitleExosomes are secreted at similar densities by M21 and PC3 human cancer cells and show paclitaxel solubility
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2022
AuthorsFisher WS, Tchounwou C, Wei S, Roberts L, Ewert KK, Safinya CR
JournalBiochimica et Biophysica Acta (BBA) - Biomembranes
KeywordsDrug delivery, Exosomes, Kinetic phase diagram, Lipid membrane, Liposomes, Paclitaxel membrane solubility

Exosomes are cell-secreted vesicles less than ≈150 nm in size that contain gene-encoding and gene-silencing RNA and cytosolic proteins with roles in intercellular communication. Interest in the use of exosomes as targeted drug delivery vehicles has grown since it was shown that they can bind specific cells and deliver intact genetic material to the cytosol of target cells. We isolated extracellular vesicles (EVs), consisting of a mixture of exosomes and microvesicles, from prostate (PC3) and melanoma (M21) cancer cell lines using serial ultracentrifugation. Interrogation via western blot analysis confirmed enrichment of CD63, a widely recognized EV surface protein, in the EV pellet from both cell lines. Nanoparticle tracking analysis (NTA) of EV pellets revealed that the two cell lines produced distinct vesicle size profiles in the ≈30 nm to ≈400 nm range. NTA further showed that the fraction of exosomes to all EVs was constant, suggesting cellular mechanisms that control the fraction of secreted vesicles that are exosomes. Transmission electron microscopy (TEM) images of the unmodified PC3 EVs showed vesicles with cup-like (i.e., nanocapsule) and previously unreported prolate morphologies. The observed non-spherical morphologies for dehydrated exosomal vesicles (size ≈30–100 nm) are most likely related to the dense packing of proteins in exosome membranes. Solubility phase diagram data showed that EVs enhanced the solubility of paclitaxel (PTX) in aqueous solution compared to a water-only control. Combined with their inherent targeting and cytosol delivery properties, these findings highlight the potential advantages of using exosomes as chemotherapeutic drug carriers in vivo.