Intestinal epithelial cells secrete exosome-like vesicles

Gastroenterology. 2001 Aug;121(2):337-49. doi: 10.1053/gast.2001.26263.


Background & aims: Given the observations that intestinal epithelial cells (IECs) can present antigens to CD4(+) T lymphocytes and that professional antigen-presenting cells secrete exosomes (antigen-presenting vesicles), we hypothesized that IECs may secrete exosomes carrying molecules implicated in antigen presentation, which may be able to cross the basement membrane and convey immune information to noncontiguous immune cells.

Methods: Human IEC lines HT29-19A and T84-DRB1*0401/CIITA were grown on microporous filters. Release of exosomes under basal or inflammatory conditions was evaluated in conditioned apical and basolateral media after differential ultracentrifugations. Morphologic and biochemical characterization of exosomes was performed using immunoelectron microscopy, Western blotting, and matrix-assisted laser desorption ionization-time of flight mass spectrometry.

Results: The intestinal cell lines released 30-90-nm-diameter vesicles from the apical and basolateral sides, and this release was significantly increased in the presence of interferon gamma. MHC class I, MHC class II, CD63, CD26/dipeptidyl-peptidase IV, and A33 antigen were present in epithelial-derived exosomes. CONCLUSIONS; Human IEC lines secrete exosomes bearing accessory molecules that may be involved in antigen presentation. These data are consistent with a model in which IECs may influence antigen presentation in the mucosal or systemic immune system independent of direct cellular contact with effector cells.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Antigens, CD / analysis
  • Antigens, Differentiation, B-Lymphocyte / analysis
  • Antineoplastic Agents / pharmacology
  • Blotting, Western
  • Cell Communication / physiology
  • Cell Polarity / physiology
  • Dipeptidyl Peptidase 4 / analysis
  • Epithelial Cells / metabolism*
  • Epithelial Cells / ultrastructure*
  • Exocytosis / physiology
  • Flow Cytometry
  • Gastric Mucosa / cytology
  • HT29 Cells
  • Histocompatibility Antigens Class I / analysis
  • Histocompatibility Antigens Class II / analysis
  • Humans
  • Interferon-gamma / pharmacology
  • Microscopy, Immunoelectron
  • Platelet Membrane Glycoproteins / analysis
  • Receptors, Transferrin / analysis
  • Secretory Vesicles / chemistry
  • Secretory Vesicles / drug effects
  • Secretory Vesicles / metabolism*
  • Sodium-Potassium-Exchanging ATPase / analysis
  • Spectrometry, Mass, Matrix-Assisted Laser Desorption-Ionization
  • T-Lymphocytes / cytology
  • Tetraspanin 30


  • Antigens, CD
  • Antigens, Differentiation, B-Lymphocyte
  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • CD63 protein, human
  • Histocompatibility Antigens Class I
  • Histocompatibility Antigens Class II
  • Platelet Membrane Glycoproteins
  • Receptors, Transferrin
  • Tetraspanin 30
  • invariant chain
  • Interferon-gamma
  • Dipeptidyl Peptidase 4
  • Sodium-Potassium-Exchanging ATPase