Exosomal mRNA Cargo are biomarkers of tumor and immune cell populations in pediatric osteosarcoma

Transl Oncol. 2024 Jun 8:46:102008. doi: 10.1016/j.tranon.2024.102008. Online ahead of print.


Osteosarcoma is the commonest malignant bone tumor of children and adolescents and is characterized by a high risk of recurrence despite multimodal therapy, especially in metastatic disease. This suggests the presence of clinically undetected cancer cells that persist, leading to cancer recurrence. We sought to evaluate the utility of peripheral blood exosomes as a more sensitive yet minimally invasive blood test that could aid in evaluating treatment response and surveillance for potential disease recurrence. We extracted exosomes from the blood of pediatric osteosarcoma patients at diagnosis (n=7) and after neoadjuvant chemotherapy (n=5 subset), as well as from age-matched cancer-free controls (n=3). We also obtained matched tumor biopsy samples (n=7) from the cases. Exosome isolation was verified by CD9 immunoblot and characterized on electron microscopy. Profiles of 780 cancer-related transcripts were analysed in mRNA from exosomes of osteosarcoma patients at diagnosis and control patients, matched post-chemotherapy samples, and matched primary tumor samples. Peripheral blood exosomes of osteosarcoma patients at diagnosis were significantly smaller than those of controls and overexpressed extracellular matrix protein gene THBS1 and B cell markers MS4A1 and TCL1A. Immunohistochemical staining of corresponding tumor samples verified the expression of THBS1 on tumor cells and osteoid matrix, and its persistence in a treatment-refractory patient, as well as the B cell origin of the latter. These hold potential as liquid biopsy biomarkers of disease burden and host immune response in osteosarcoma. Our findings suggest that exosomes may provide novel and clinically-important insights into the pathophysiology of cancers such as osteosarcoma.

Keywords: Exosome; MS4A1; Osteosarcoma; TCL1A; THBS1.