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Endocrinology. 2018 Sep 1;159(9):3259-3267. doi: 10.1210/en.2018-00266.

Evidence for Adipocyte-Derived Extracellular Vesicles in the Human Circulation.

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School of Sport and Health Sciences, Cardiff Metropolitan University, Cardiff, United Kingdom.
Neuroscience and Mental Health Research Institute, School of Medicine, Cardiff University, Cardiff, United Kingdom.
Sir William Dunn School of Pathology, University of Oxford, Oxford, United Kingdom.


Adipocyte-derived extracellular vesicles (EVs) may serve as novel endocrine mediators of adipose tissue and impact upon vascular health. However, it is unclear whether adipocyte-derived EVs are present in the human circulation. Therefore, the purpose of this study was to seek evidence for the presence of adipocyte-derived EVs in circulating plasma. Size-exclusion chromatography of platelet-free plasma identified fractions 5 to 10 as containing EVs by a peak in particle concentration, which corresponded with the presence of EV and adipocyte proteins. Pooling fractions 5 to 10 and subjecting to ultracentrifugation yielded a plasma EV sample, as verified by transmission electron microscopy (TEM) showing EV structures and Western blotting for EV (e.g., CD9 and Alix) and adipocyte markers. Magnetic beads and a solid-phase assay were used to deplete the EV sample of the four major families of circulating EVs: platelet-derived, leukocyte-derived, endothelial-derived, and erythrocyte-derived EVs. Postdepletion samples from both techniques contained EV structures as visualized by TEM, as well as CD9, Alix, and classic adipocyte proteins. Postdepletion samples also contained a range of other adipocyte proteins from an adipokine array. Adipocyte proteins and adipokines are expressed in optimally processed plasma EV samples, suggesting that adipocyte-derived EVs are secreted into the human circulation.

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