Proteomic profiling of extracellular vesicles allows for human breast cancer subtyping

Commun Biol. 2019 Sep 3:2:325. doi: 10.1038/s42003-019-0570-8. eCollection 2019.


Extracellular vesicles (EVs) are a potential source of disease-associated biomarkers for diagnosis. In breast cancer, comprehensive analyses of EVs could yield robust and reliable subtype-specific biomarkers that are still critically needed to improve diagnostic routines and clinical outcome. Here, we show that proteome profiles of EVs secreted by different breast cancer cell lines are highly indicative of their respective molecular subtypes, even more so than the proteome changes within the cancer cells. Moreover, we detected molecular evidence for subtype-specific biological processes and molecular pathways, hyperphosphorylated receptors and kinases in connection with the disease, and compiled a set of protein signatures that closely reflect the associated clinical pathophysiology. These unique features revealed in our work, replicated in clinical material, collectively demonstrate the potential of secreted EVs to differentiate between breast cancer subtypes and show the prospect of their use as non-invasive liquid biopsies for diagnosis and management of breast cancer patients.

Keywords: Breast cancer; Mass spectrometry; Proteomic analysis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biomarkers, Tumor / metabolism
  • Breast Neoplasms / blood
  • Breast Neoplasms / classification*
  • Breast Neoplasms / metabolism*
  • Breast Neoplasms / ultrastructure
  • Cattle
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Extracellular Vesicles / metabolism*
  • Extracellular Vesicles / ultrastructure
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Neoplasm Proteins / metabolism
  • Phosphoproteins / metabolism
  • Principal Component Analysis
  • Proteome / metabolism
  • Proteomics / methods*


  • Biomarkers, Tumor
  • Neoplasm Proteins
  • Phosphoproteins
  • Proteome