Enrichment of sweat-derived extracellular vesicles of human and bacterial origin for biomarker identification

Nanotheranostics. 2024 Jan 1;8(1):48-63. doi: 10.7150/ntno.87822. eCollection 2024.


Sweat contains biomarkers for real-time non-invasive health monitoring, but only a few relevant analytes are currently used in clinical practice. In the present study, we investigated whether sweat-derived extracellular vesicles (EVs) can be used as a source of potential protein biomarkers of human and bacterial origin. Methods: By using ExoView platform, electron microscopy, nanoparticle tracking analysis and Western blotting we characterized EVs in the sweat of eight volunteers performing rigorous exercise. We compared the presence of EV markers as well as general protein composition of total sweat, EV-enriched sweat and sweat samples collected in alginate skin patches. Results: We identified 1209 unique human proteins in EV-enriched sweat, of which approximately 20% were present in every individual sample investigated. Sweat derived EVs shared 846 human proteins (70%) with total sweat, while 368 proteins (30%) were captured by medical grade alginate skin patch and such EVs contained the typical exosome marker CD63. The majority of identified proteins are known to be carried by EVs found in other biofluids, mostly urine. Besides human proteins, EV-enriched sweat samples contained 1594 proteins of bacterial origin. Bacterial protein profiles in EV-enriched sweat were characterized by high interindividual variability, that reflected differences in total sweat composition. Alginate-based sweat patch accumulated only 5% proteins of bacterial origin. Conclusion: We showed that sweat-derived EVs provide a rich source of potential biomarkers of human and bacterial origin. Use of commercially available alginate skin patches selectively enrich for human derived material with very little microbial material collected.

Keywords: alginate; bacteria; extracellular vesicles; proteomics; sweat.

MeSH terms

  • Alginates / metabolism
  • Biomarkers / metabolism
  • Exosomes* / metabolism
  • Extracellular Vesicles* / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Sweat / metabolism


  • Biomarkers
  • Alginates