Proteomics identifies differences in fibrotic potential of extracellular vesicles from human tendon and muscle fibroblasts

Ching Yan Chloé Yeung*, Erwin M. Schoof, Michal Tamáš, Abigail L. Mackey, Michael Kjær

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

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Background: Fibroblasts are the powerhouses responsible for the production and assembly of extracellular matrix (ECM). Their activity needs to be tightly controlled especially within the musculoskeletal system, where changes to ECM composition affect force transmission and mechanical loading that are required for effective movement of the body. Extracellular vesicles (EVs) are a mode of cell-cell communication within and between tissues, which has been largely characterised in cancer. However, it is unclear what the role of healthy fibroblast-derived EVs is during tissue homeostasis.

Methods: Here, we performed proteomic analysis of small EVs derived from primary human muscle and tendon cells to identify the potential functions of healthy fibroblast-derived EVs.

Results: Mass spectrometry-based proteomics revealed comprehensive profiles for small EVs released from healthy human fibroblasts from different tissues. We found that fibroblast-derived EVs were more similar than EVs from differentiating myoblasts, but there were significant differences between tendon fibroblast and muscle fibroblast EVs. Small EVs from tendon fibroblasts contained higher levels of proteins that support ECM synthesis, including TGFβ1, and muscle fibroblast EVs contained proteins that support myofiber function and components of the skeletal muscle matrix.

Conclusions: Our data demonstrates a marked heterogeneity among healthy fibroblast-derived EVs, indicating shared tasks between EVs of skeletal muscle myoblasts and fibroblasts, whereas tendon fibroblast EVs could play a fibrotic role in human tendon tissue. These findings suggest an important role for EVs in tissue homeostasis of both tendon and skeletal muscle in humans. [MediaObject not available: see fulltext.]
Original languageEnglish
Article number177
JournalCell Communication and Signaling
Issue number1
Number of pages15
Publication statusPublished - 2020


  • Extracellular vesicle
  • Musculoskeletal tissue
  • Mass spectrometry
  • Extracellular matrix

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