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J Extracell Vesicles. 2019 Dec 26;9(1):1706801. doi: 10.1080/20013078.2019.1706801. eCollection 2020.

Activated human astrocyte-derived extracellular vesicles modulate neuronal uptake, differentiation and firing.

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Department of Pharmacology & Experimental Therapeutics, Boston University School of Medicine, Boston, MA, USA.
Department of Microbiology, Immunology and Genetics, University of North Texas Health Science Center, Fort Worth, TX, USA.
Neurology, Boston University School of Medicine, Boston, MA, USA.
Center for Systems Neuroscience, Boston University, Boston, MA, USA.


Astrocytes in the central nervous system (CNS) provide supportive neural functions and mediate inflammatory responses from microglia. Increasing evidence supports their critical roles in regulating brain homoeostasis in response to pro-inflammatory factors such as cytokines and pathogen/damage-associated molecular pattern molecules in infectious and neurodegenerative diseases. However, the underlying mechanisms of the trans-cellular communication are still unclear. Extracellular vesicles (EVs) can transfer a large diversity of molecules such as lipids, nucleic acids and proteins for cellular communications. The purpose of this study is to characterize the EVs cargo proteins derived from human primary astrocytes (ADEVs) under both physiological and pathophysiological conditions. ADEVs were isolated from human primary astrocytes after vehicle (CTL) or interleukin-1β (IL-1β) pre-treatment. Label-free quantitative proteomic profiling revealed a notable up-regulation of proteins including actin-associated molecules, integrins and major histocompatibility complex in IL-1β-ADEVs compared to CTL-ADEVs, which were involved in cellular metabolism and organization, cellular communication and inflammatory response. When fluorescently labelled ADEVs were added into primary cultured mouse cortical neurons, we found a significantly increased neuronal uptake of IL-1β-ADEVs compared to CTL-ADEVs. We further confirmed it is likely due to the enrichment of surface proteins in IL-1β-ADEVs, as IL-1β-ADEVs uptake by neurons was partially suppressed by a specific integrin inhibitor. Additionally, treatment of neurons with IL-1β-ADEVs also reduced neurite outgrowth, branching and neuronal firing. These findings provide insight for the molecular mechanism of the ADEVs' effects on neural uptake, neural differentiation and maturation, and its alteration in inflammatory conditions.


Astrocytes; IL-1β; exosome; extracellular matrix; extracellular vesicles; inflammatory diseases; neurodegenerative diseases; proteomics

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