The prognosis of patients with pancreatic cancer has remained virtually unchanged with a high mortality rate compared to other types of cancers. An earlier detection would provide a time window of opportunity for treatment and prevention of deaths.
In the present study we investigated extracellular vesicle (EV)-associated potential biomarkers for pancreatic cancer by directly assessing EV size-based subpopulations in pancreatic juice samples of patients with chronic pancreatitis or pancreatic cancer. In addition, we also studied blood plasma and pancreatic cancer cell line-derived EVs.
Comparative proteomic analysis was performed of 102 EV preparations from human pancreatic juices, blood, and pancreatic cancer cell lines Capan-1 and MIA PaCa-2. EV preparations were also characterized by electron microscopy, tunable resistive pulse sensing, and flow cytometry.
Here we describe the presence of EVs in human pancreatic juice samples. Pancreatic juice EV-associated proteins that we identified as possible candidate markers for pancreatic cancer included mucins, such as MUC1, MUC4, MUC5AC, MUC6 and MUC16, CFTR, and MDR1 proteins. These candidate biomarkers could also be detected by flow cytometry in EVs found in pancreatic juice and those secreted by pancreatic cancer cell lines.
Together our data show that detection and characterization of EVs directly in pancreatic juice is feasible and may prove to be a valuable source of potential biomarkers of pancreatic cancer.