Plasma biomarker discovery in preeclampsia using a novel differential isolation technology for circulating extracellular vesicles

Am J Obstet Gynecol. 2014 Oct;211(4):380.e1-13. doi: 10.1016/j.ajog.2014.03.038. Epub 2014 Mar 18.


Objective: To circumvent the complex protein milieu of plasma and discover robust predictive biomarkers for preeclampsia (PE), we investigate if phospholipid-binding ligands can reduce the milieu complexity by extracting plasma extracellular vesicles for biomarker discovery.

Study design: Cholera toxin B chain (CTB) and annexin V (AV) which respectively binds GM1 ganglioside and phosphatidylserine were used to isolate extracellular vesicles from plasma of PE patients and healthy pregnant women. The proteins in the vesicles were identified using enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay, antibody array, and mass spectrometry.

Results: CTB and AV were found to bind 2 distinct groups of extracellular vesicles. Antibody array and enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay revealed that PE patients had elevated levels of CD105, interleukin-6, placental growth factor, tissue inhibitor of metallopeptidase 1, and atrial natriuretic peptide in cholera toxin B- but not AV-vesicles, and elevated levels of plasminogen activator inhibitor-1, pro-calcitonin, S100b, tumor growth factor β, vascular endothelial growth factor receptor 1, brain natriuretic peptide, and placental growth factor in both cholera toxin B- and AV-vesicles. CD9 level was elevated in cholera toxin B-vesicles but reduced in AV vesicles of PE patients. Proteome analysis revealed that in cholera toxin B-vesicles, 87 and 222 proteins were present only in PE patients and healthy pregnant women respectively while in AV-vesicles, 104 and 157 proteins were present only in PE and healthy pregnant women, respectively.

Conclusion: This study demonstrated for the first time that CTB and AV bind unique extracellular vesicles, and their protein cargo reflects the disease state of the patient. The successful use of these 2 ligands to isolate circulating plasma extracellular vesicles for biomarker discovery in PE represents a novel technology for biomarker discovery that can be applied to other specialties.

Keywords: annexin V; biomarker discovery; cholera toxin B chain; extracellular vesicles; preeclampsia.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Annexin A5*
  • Biomarkers / blood*
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Cholera Toxin*
  • Electrophoresis, Polyacrylamide Gel
  • Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay
  • Exosomes / metabolism*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Mass Spectrometry
  • Pre-Eclampsia / blood
  • Pre-Eclampsia / diagnosis*
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Trimester, Third
  • Proteome


  • Annexin A5
  • Biomarkers
  • Proteome
  • Cholera Toxin