Proteomic analysis of cerebrospinal fluid extracellular vesicles reveals synaptic injury, inflammation, and stress response markers in HIV patients with cognitive impairment

Date Published:

2019 Dec 05


BACKGROUND: Extracellular vesicles (EVs) are nano-sized particles present in most body fluids including cerebrospinal fluid (CSF). Little is known about CSF EV proteins in HIV+ individuals. Here, we characterize the CSF EV proteome in HIV+ subjects and its relationship to neuroinflammation, stress responses, and HIV-associated neurocognitive disorders (HAND). METHODS: CSF EVs isolated from 20 HIV+ subjects with (n = 10) or without (n = 10) cognitive impairment were characterized by electron microscopy, nanoparticle tracking analysis, immunoblotting, and untargeted LC/MS/MS mass spectrometry. Functional annotation was performed by gene ontology (GO) mapping and expression annotation using Biobase Transfac and PANTHER software. Cultured astrocytic U87 cells were treated with hydrogen peroxide for 4 h to induce oxidative stress and EVs isolated by ultracentrifugation. Selected markers of astrocytes (GFAP, GLUL), inflammation (CRP), and stress responses (PRDX2, PARK7, HSP70) were evaluated in EVs released by U87 cells following induction of oxidative stress and in CSF EVs from HIV+ patients by immunoblotting. RESULTS: Mass spectrometry identified 2727 and 1626 proteins in EV fractions and EV-depleted CSF samples, respectively. CSF EV fractions were enriched with exosomal markers including Alix, syntenin, tetraspanins, and heat-shock proteins and a subset of neuronal, astrocyte, oligodendrocyte, and choroid plexus markers, in comparison to EV-depleted CSF. Proteins related to synapses, immune/inflammatory responses, stress responses, metabolic processes, mitochondrial functions, and blood-brain barrier were also identified in CSF EV fractions by GO mapping. HAND subjects had higher abundance of CSF EVs and proteins mapping to GO terms for synapses, glial cells, inflammation, and stress responses compared to those without HAND. GFAP, GLUL, CRP, PRDX2, PARK7, and HSP70 were confirmed by immunoblotting of CSF EVs from subjects with HAND and were also detected in EVs released by U87 cells under oxidative stress. CONCLUSIONS: These findings suggest that CSF EVs derived from neurons, glial cells, and choroid plexus carry synaptic, immune/inflammation-related, and stress response proteins in HIV+ individuals with cognitive impairment, representing a valuable source for biomarker discovery.