Exosomes are nanovesicles released from most cell types including immune cells. Prior studies suggest exosomes play a role in HIV pathogenesis, but little is known about exosome cargo in relation to immune responses and oxidative stress. Here, we characterize plasma exosomes in HIV patients and their relationship to immunological and oxidative stress markers. Plasma exosome fractions were isolated from HIV-positive subjects on ART with suppressed viral load and HIV-negative controls. Exosomes were characterized by electron microscopy, nanoparticle tracking, immunoblotting, and LC-MS/MS proteomics. Plasma exosomes were increased in HIV-positive subjects compared to controls, and correlated with increased oxidative stress markers (cystine, oxidized cys-gly) and decreased PUFA (DHA, EPA, DPA). Untargeted proteomics detected markers of exosomes (CD9, CD63, CD81), immune activation (CD14, CRP, HLA-A, HLA-B), oxidative stress (CAT, PRDX1, PRDX2, TXN), and Notch4 in plasma exosomes. Exosomal Notch4 was increased in HIV-positive subjects versus controls and correlated with immune activation markers. Treatment of THP-1 monocytic cells with patient-derived exosomes induced expression of genes related to interferon responses and immune activation. These results suggest that exosomes in ART-treated HIV patients carry proteins related to immune activation and oxidative stress, have immunomodulatory effects on myeloid cells, and may have pro-inflammatory and redox effects during pathogenesis.
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