BACKGROUND: Exosomes isolated from plasma of lung transplant recipients (LTxRs) with bronchiolitis obliterans syndrome (BOS) contain human leukocyte antigens and lung self-antigens (SAgs), K-alpha 1 tubulin (Kα1T) and collagen type V (Col-V). The aim was to determine the use of circulating exosomes with lung SAgs as a biomarker for BOS. METHODS: Circulating exosomes were isolated retrospectively from plasma from LTxRs at diagnosis of BOS and at 6 and 12 months before the diagnosis (n = 41) and from stable time-matched controls (n = 30) at 2 transplant centers by ultracentrifugation. Exosomes were validated using Nanosight, and lung SAgs (Kα1T and Col-V) were detected by immunoblot and semiquantitated using ImageJ software. RESULTS: Circulating exosomes from BOS and stable LTxRs demonstrated 61- to 181-nm vesicles with markers Alix and CD9. Exosomes from LTxRs with BOS (n = 21) showed increased levels of lung SAgs compared with stable (n = 10). A validation study using 2 separate cohorts of LTxRs with BOS and stable time-matched controls from 2 centers also demonstrated significantly increased lung SAgs–containing exosomes at 6 and 12 months before BOS. CONCLUSIONS: Circulating exosomes isolated from LTxRs with BOS demonstrated increased levels of lung SAgs (Kα1T and Col-V) 12 months before the diagnosis (100% specificity and 90% sensitivity), indicating that circulating exosomes with lung SAgs can be used as a non-invasive biomarker for identifying LTxRs at risk for BOS.
- chronic lung allograft dysfunction
- circulating exosomes
- human lung transplant
- lung self-antigens