Document Type


Publication Date


MeSH Terms

Breast Neoplasms, Extracellular Vesicles, Exosomes, MicroRNAs,

Subject: LCSH

Extracellular Space, MicroRNA


Forensic Science and Technology | Medical Cell Biology


Extracellular vesicles (EVs) shuttle microRNA (miRNA) throughout the circulation and are believed to represent a fingerprint of the releasing cell. We isolated and characterized serum EVs of breast tumour-bearing animals, breast cancer (BC) patients, and healthy controls. EVs were characterized using transmission electron microscopy (TEM), protein quantification, western blotting, and nanoparticle tracking analysis (NTA). Absolute quantitative (AQ)-PCR was employed to analyse EV-miR-451a expression. Isolated EVs had the appropriate morphology and size. Patient sera contained significantly more EVs than did healthy controls. In tumour-bearing animals, a correlation between serum EV number and tumour burden was observed. There was no significant relationship between EV protein yield and EV quantity determined by NTA, highlighting the requirement for direct quantification. Using AQ-PCR to relate miRNA copy number to EV yield, a significant increase in miRNA-451a copies/EV was detected in BC patient sera, suggesting potential as a novel biomarker of breast cancer.


© 2020 Glynn, C., et al. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium or format provided the original author and source are credited. The article originally appeared in the journal, Cells.

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Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

Publisher Citation

Moloney, B.M.; Gilligan, K.E.; Joyce, D.P.; O’Neill, C.P.; O’Brien, K.P.; Khan, S.; Glynn, C.L.; Waldron, R.M.; Maguire, C.M.; Holian, E.; Naughton, E.; Elhadi, M.; Grealish, A.B.; Malone, C.; McDermott, E.; Dockery, P.; Ritter, T.; Prina-Mello, A.; Kerin, M.J.; Dwyer, R.M. Investigating the Potential and Pitfalls of EV-Encapsulated MicroRNAs as Circulating Biomarkers of Breast Cancer. Cells 2020, 9, 141.