O-Glycan-Altered Extracellular Vesicles: A Specific Serum Marker Elevated in Pancreatic Cancer

Cancers (Basel). 2020 Aug 31;12(9):2469. doi: 10.3390/cancers12092469.


Pancreatic cancer (PC) is among the most lethal malignancies due to an often delayed and difficult initial diagnosis. Therefore, the development of a novel, early stage, diagnostic PC marker in liquid biopsies is of great significance. In this study, we analyzed the differential glycomic profiling of extracellular vesicles (EVs) derived from serum (two cohorts including 117 PC patients and 98 normal controls) using lectin microarray. The glyco-candidates of PC-specific EVs were quantified using a high-sensitive exosome-counting system, ExoCounter. An absolute quantification system for altered glycan-containing EVs elevated in PC serum was established. EVs recognized by O-glycan-binding lectins ABA or ACA were identified as candidate markers by lectin microarray. Quantitative analyses using ExoCounter revealed that the ABA- or ACA-positive EVs were significantly increased in the culture of PC cell lines or in the serum of PC patients including carbohydrate antigen 19-9 negative patients with high area under curve values. The elevated numbers of EVs in PC serum returned to normal levels after pancreatectomy. Histological examination confirmed that the tumors stained with ABA/ACA. These specific EVs with O-glycans recognized by ABA/ACA are elevated in PC sera and can act as potential biomarkers in a liquid biopsy for PC patients screening.

Keywords: O-glycan; extracellular vesicles; glycomics; lectin microarray; liquid biopsy; pancreatic cancer.