Circulating microvesicles and exosomes in small cell lung cancer by quantitative proteomics

Shona Pedersen*, Katrine Papendick Jensen, Bent Honoré, Søren Risom Kristensen, Camilla Holm Pedersen, Weronika Maria Szejniuk, Raluca Georgiana Maltesen, Ursula Falkmer

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

18 Citations (Scopus)
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BACKGROUND: Early detection of small cell lung cancer (SCLC) crucially demands highly reliable markers. Growing evidence suggests that extracellular vesicles carry tumor cell-specific cargo suitable as protein markers in cancer. Quantitative proteomic profiling of circulating microvesicles and exosomes can be a high-throughput platform for discovery of novel molecular insights and putative markers. Hence, this study aimed to investigate proteome dynamics of plasma-derived microvesicles and exosomes in newly diagnosed SCLC patients to improve early detection.

METHODS: Plasma-derived microvesicles and exosomes from 24 healthy controls and 24 SCLC patients were isolated from plasma by either high-speed- or ultracentrifugation. Proteins derived from these extracellular vesicles were quantified using label-free mass spectrometry and statistical analysis was carried out aiming at identifying significantly altered protein expressions between SCLC patients and healthy controls. Furthermore, significantly expressed proteins were subjected to functional enrichment analysis to identify biological pathways implicated in SCLC pathogenesis.

RESULTS: Based on fold change (FC) ≥ 2 or ≤ 0.5 and AUC ≥ 0.70 (p < 0.05), we identified 10 common and 16 and 17 unique proteins for microvesicles and exosomes, respectively. Among these proteins, we found dysregulation of coagulation factor XIII A (Log2 FC =  - 1.1, p = 0.0003, AUC = 0.82, 95% CI: 0.69-0.96) and complement factor H-related protein 4 (Log2 FC = 1.2, p = 0.0005, AUC = 0.82, 95% CI; 0.67-0.97) in SCLC patients compared to healthy individuals. Our data may indicate a novel tumor-suppressing role of blood coagulation and involvement of complement activation in SCLC pathogenesis.

CONCLUSIONS: In comparing SCLC patients and healthy individuals, several differentially expressed proteins were identified. This is the first study showing that circulating extracellular vesicles may encompass specific proteins with potential diagnostic attributes for SCLC, thereby opening new opportunities as novel non-invasive markers.

Original languageEnglish
Article number2
JournalClinical proteomics
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 7 Jan 2022

Bibliographical note

© 2022. The Author(s).


  • Potential diagnostic markers
  • Proteomics
  • Small cell lung cancer
  • Tumor-derived exosomes
  • Tumor-derived microvesicles


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