The discovery of disease-specific biomarkers in oral fluids has revealed a new dimension in molecular diagnostics. Recent studies have reported the mechanistic involvement of tumor cells derived mediators, such as exosomes, in the development of saliva-based mRNA biomarkers.
To further our understanding of the origins of disease-induced salivary biomarkers, researchers at UCLA evaluated the hypothesis that tumor-shed secretory lipidic vesicles called exosome-like microvesicles (ELMs) that serve as protective carriers of tissue-specific information, mRNAs, and proteins, throughout the vasculature and bodily fluids. RNA content was analyzed in cell free-saliva and ELM-enriched fractions of saliva. Their data confirmed that the majority of extracellular RNAs (exRNAs) in saliva were encapsulated within ELMs. Nude mice implanted with human lung cancer H460 cells expressing hCD63-GFP were used to follow the circulation of tumor cell specific protein and mRNA in the form of ELMs in vivo. The researchers were able to identify human GAPDH mRNA in ELMs of blood and saliva of tumor bearing mice using nested RT-qPCR. ELMs positive for hCD63-GFP were detected in the saliva and blood of tumor bearing mice as well as using electric field-induced release and measurement (EFIRM).
Altogether, these results demonstrate that ELMs carry tumor cell-specific mRNA and protein from blood to saliva in a xenografted mouse model of human lung cancer. These results therefore strengthen the link between distal tumor progression and the biomarker discovery of saliva through the ELMs.