Proteomic Profile of Procoagulant Extracellular Vesicles Reflects Complement System Activation and Platelet Hyperreactivity of Patients with Severe COVID-19

Moraes, Emilly Caroline Dos Santos, et al. “Proteomic profile of procoagulant extracellular vesicles reflects complement system activation and platelet hyperreactivity of patients with severe COVID-19.” Frontiers in Cellular and Infection Microbiology (2022): 981.


Background: Extracellular vesicles (EVs) are a valuable source of biomarkers and display the pathophysiological status of various diseases. In COVID-19, EVs have been explored in several studies for their ability to reflect molecular changes caused by SARS-CoV-2. Here we provide insights into the roles of EVs in pathological processes associated with the progression and severity of COVID-19.

Methods: In this study, we used a label-free shotgun proteomic approach to identify and quantify alterations in EV protein abundance in severe COVID-19 patients. We isolated plasma extracellular vesicles from healthy donors and patients with severe COVID-19 by size exclusion chromatography (SEC). Then, flow cytometry was performed to assess the origin of EVs and to investigate the presence of circulating procoagulant EVs in COVID-19 patients. A total protein extraction was performed, and samples were analyzed by nLC-MS/MS in a Q-Exactive HF-X. Finally, computational analysis was applied to signify biological processes related to disease pathogenesis.

Results: We report significant changes in the proteome of EVs from patients with severe COVID-19. Flow cytometry experiments indicated an increase in total circulating EVs and with tissue factor (TF) dependent procoagulant activity. Differentially expressed proteins in the disease groups were associated with complement and coagulation cascades, platelet degranulation, and acute inflammatory response.

Conclusions: The proteomic data reinforce the changes in the proteome of extracellular vesicles from patients infected with SARS-CoV-2 and suggest a role for EVs in severe COVID-19.