Characterization and proteomic analysis of ovarian cancer-derived exosomes

J Proteomics. 2013 Mar 27;80:171-82. doi: 10.1016/j.jprot.2012.12.029. Epub 2013 Jan 16.


Ovarian cancer is the most lethal type of cancer among all frequent gynecologic malignancies, because most patients present with advanced disease at diagnosis. Exosomes are important intercellular communication vehicles, released by various cell types. Here we presented firstly the protein profile of highly purified exosomes derived from two ovarian cancer cell lines, OVCAR-3 and IGROV1. The exosomes derived from ovarian cancer cell lines were round and mostly 30-100 nm in diameter when viewed under an electron microscope. The exosomal marker proteins TSG101 and Alix were detected in exosome preparations. The range of density was between 1.09 g/ml and 1.15 g/ml. A total of 2230 proteins were identified from two ovarian cell-derived exosomes. Among them, 1017 proteins were identified in both exosomes including all of the major exosomal protein markers. There were 380 proteins that are not reported in the ExoCarta database. In addition to common proteins from exosomes of various origins, our results showed that ovarian cancer-derived exosomes also carried tissue specific proteins associated with tumorigenesis and metastasis, especially in ovarian carcinoma. Based on the known roles of exosomes in cellular communication, these data indicate that exosomes released by ovarian cancer cells may play important roles in ovarian cancer progression and provide a potential source of blood-based protein biomarkers.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Biomarkers, Tumor
  • Carcinoma / metabolism
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Disease Progression
  • Exosomes / metabolism*
  • Female
  • Gene Expression Profiling
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Neoplastic
  • Humans
  • Microscopy, Electron
  • Microscopy, Electron, Transmission
  • Nanotechnology
  • Neoplasm Metastasis
  • Ovarian Neoplasms / metabolism*
  • Proteomics / methods*
  • Spectrometry, Mass, Electrospray Ionization


  • Biomarkers, Tumor