Characterization of Plasma-Derived Small Extracellular Vesicles Indicates Ongoing Endothelial and Platelet Activation in Patients with Thrombotic Antiphospholipid Syndrome

Cells. 2020 May 13;9(5):1211. doi: 10.3390/cells9051211.


Antiphospholipid syndrome (APS) is a systemic autoimmune disease, characterized by thrombosis, obstetric complications and the presence of antiphospholipid antibodies (aPL), which drive endothelial injury and thrombophilia. Extracellular vesicles (EVs) have been implicated in endothelial and thrombotic pathologies. Here, we characterized the quantity, cellular origin and the surface expression of biologically active molecules in small EVs (sEVs) isolated from the plasma of thrombotic APS patients (n = 14), aPL-negative patients with idiopathic thrombosis (aPL-neg IT, n = 5) and healthy blood donors (HBD, n = 7). Nanoparticle tracking analysis showed similar sEV sizes (110-170 nm) between the groups, with an increased quantity of sEVs in patients with APS and aPL-neg IT compared to HBD. MACSPlex analysis of 37 different sEV surface markers showed endothelial (CD31), platelet (CD41b and CD42a), leukocyte (CD45), CD8 lymphocyte and APC (HLA-ABC) cell-derived sEVs. Except for CD8, these molecules were comparably expressed in all study groups. sEVs from APS patients were specifically enriched in surface expression of CD62P, suggesting endothelial and platelet activation in APS. Additionally, APS patients exhibited increased CD133/1 expression compared to aPL-neg IT, suggesting endothelial damage in APS patients. These findings demonstrate enhanced shedding, and distinct biological properties of sEVs in thrombotic APS.

Keywords: adhesion molecules; antiphospholipid syndrome; endothelial activation; platelet activation; small extracellular vesicles; surface protein markers; thrombosis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Antiphospholipid Syndrome / blood*
  • Antiphospholipid Syndrome / complications*
  • Biomarkers / blood
  • Blood Donors
  • Blood Proteins / metabolism
  • Cell Adhesion Molecules / metabolism
  • Cell Communication
  • Cell Membrane / metabolism
  • Extracellular Vesicles / metabolism*
  • Extracellular Vesicles / ultrastructure
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Platelet Activation*
  • Thrombosis / blood*
  • Thrombosis / complications*


  • Biomarkers
  • Blood Proteins
  • Cell Adhesion Molecules