Proteomic analysis of plasma exosomes from Cystic Echinococcosis patients providesin vivosupport for distinct immune response profiles in activevsinactive infection and suggests potential biomarkers

Fratini F., Tamarozzi F., Macchia G., Bertuccini L., Mariconti M., Birago C., ...More

PLOS NEGLECTED TROPICAL DISEASES, vol.14, no.10, 2020 (Journal Indexed in SCI) identifier identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 14 Issue: 10
  • Publication Date: 2020
  • Doi Number: 10.1371/journal.pntd.0008586


The reference diagnostic method of human abdominal Cystic Echinococcosis (CE) is imaging, particularly ultrasound, supported by serology when imaging is inconclusive. However, current diagnostic tools are neither optimal nor widely available. The availability of a test detecting circulating biomarkers would considerably improve CE diagnosis and cyst staging (active vs inactive), as well as treatments and follow-up of patients. Exosomes are extracellular vesicles involved in intercellular communication, including immune system responses, and are a recognized source of biomarkers. With the aim of identifying potential biomarkers, plasma pools from patients infected by active or inactive CE, as well as from control subjects, were processed to isolate exosomes for proteomic label-free quantitative analysis. Results were statistically processed and subjected to bioinformatics analysis to define distinct features associated with parasite viability. First, a few parasite proteins were identified that were specifically associated with either active or inactive CE, which represent potential biomarkers to be validated in further studies. Second, numerous identified proteins of human origin were common to active and inactive CE, confirming an overlap of several immune response pathways. However, a subset of human proteins specific to either active or inactive CE, and central in the respective protein-protein interaction networks, were identified. These include the Src family kinases Src and Lyn, and the immune-suppressive cytokine TGF-beta in active CE, and Cdc42 in inactive CE. The Src and Lyn Kinases were confirmed as potential markers of active CE in totally independent plasma pools. In addition, insights were obtained on immune response profiles: largely consistent with previous evidence, our observations hint to a Th1/Th2/regulatory immune environment in patients with active CE and a Th1/inflammatory environment with a component of the wound healing response in the presence of inactive CE. Of note, our results were obtained for the first time from the analysis of samples obtainedin vivofrom a well-characterized, large cohort of human subjects.