Distinct lipid compositions of two types of human prostasomes

Proteomics. 2013 May;13(10-11):1660-6. doi: 10.1002/pmic.201200348. Epub 2013 Apr 2.


Prostasomes are vesicles secreted by prostate epithelial cells and found in abundance in seminal plasma. They regulate aspects of sperm cell function and are also thought to prevent immune-mediated destruction of sperm cells within the female reproductive tract. In a previous study, we isolated two distinct populations of prostasomes, differing both in size and protein composition, from the seminal fluid of vasectomized men. In the current study, we characterized the lipid content of these two prostasome populations. Both prostasome types had an unusual lipid composition, with high levels of sphingomyelin (SM), cholesterol, and glycosphingolipids at the expense of, in particular, phosphatidylcholine. The different classes of glycerophospholipids consisted mainly of mono-unsaturated species. The sphingosine-based lipids, SM and the hexosylceramides, were characterized by a near absence of unsaturated species. The two types of prostasome differed in lipid composition, particularly with regard to the relative contributions of SM and hexosylceramides. Potential implications of the lipid compositions of prostasomes for the mechanisms of their formation and function are discussed.

MeSH terms

  • Cholesterol / metabolism
  • Epithelial Cells / metabolism
  • Exosomes / metabolism*
  • Glycerophospholipids / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Lipid Metabolism
  • Male
  • Phosphatidylcholines / metabolism*
  • Phospholipids / metabolism*
  • Prostate / cytology
  • Prostate / metabolism
  • Semen / metabolism
  • Sphingomyelins / metabolism


  • Glycerophospholipids
  • Phosphatidylcholines
  • Phospholipids
  • Sphingomyelins
  • Cholesterol