Alcoholic liver disease (ALD) and nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) are typically asymptomatic and slow-progressing but potentially fatal diseases that are common causes of liver cirrhosis and related complications. Exosomes are nano-sized extracellular vesicles that have been linked to various intercellular communication processes and can carry biological materials reflecting the state and severity of disease.
In this study, researchers from Chungnam National University performed shotgun proteomic analysis of the protein expression profiles of extracellular vesicles, including exosomes and microvesicles, enriched from human serum samples of 24 patients diagnosed with various fatty liver diseases using liquid chromatography tandem mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS) followed by protein identification and label-free quantification using the MaxQuant platform. A total of 329 proteins, including 190 previously reported exosome-specific proteins, were identified from four types of liver disease, where significant differences in protein expression were found in apolipoproteins, immunoglobulins, and other previously reported markers of liver disease. Principal component analysis of 61 proteins identified from MaxQuant analysis of the LC-MS/MS data provided a confident differentiation between ALD and NAFLD.