Phenotyping of circulating extracellular vesicles (EVs) in obesity identifies large EVs as functional conveyors of Macrophage Migration Inhibitory Factor

Jérémy Amosse, Maëva Durcin, Marine Malloci, Luisa Vergori, Audrey Fleury, Frédéric Gagnadoux, Séverine Dubois, Gilles Simard, Jérôme Boursier, Olivier Hue, M. Carmen Martinez, Ramaroson Andriantsitohaina, Soazig Le Lay

White adipose tissue (WAT) is recognized as an endocrine organ that secretes many factors. Recent evidence has highlighted the potential role of extracellular vesicles (EVs) in the development of metabolic diseases. Amosse, Durcin, and colleagues identified large EVs as specific conveyors of functional Macrophage Migration Inhibitory Factor (MIF) cytokine. Although MIF enzymatic activity is not well defined, its importance has been underlined in multiple disease states.

Objective: Obesity-associated metabolic dysfunctions are linked to dysregulated production of adipokines. Accumulating evidence suggests a role for fat-derived extracellular vesicles (EVs) in obesity-metabolic disturbances. Since EVs convey numerous proteins we aimed to evaluate their contribution in adipokine secretion.

Methods: Plasma collected from metabolic syndrome patients were used to isolate EV subtypes, namely microvesicles (MVs) and exosomes (EXOs). Numerous soluble factor concentrations were measured successively on total, MV- and EXO-depleted plasma by multiplexed immunoassays.

Results: Circulating MVs and EXOs were significantly increased with BMI, supporting a role of EVs as metabolic relays in obesity. Obesity was associated with dysregulated soluble factor production. Sequential depletion of plasma MVs and EXOs did not modify plasma levels of these molecules, with the exception of Macrophage Migration Inhibitory Factor (MIF). Half of plasma MIF circulated within MVs, and this MV secretory pathway was conserved over different MIF-producing cells. Although MV-associated MIF triggered rapid ERK1/2 activation in macrophages, these functional MV-MIF effects specifically relied on MIF tautomerase activity.

Conclusion: Our results emphasize the importance of reconsidering MIF-metabolic actions with regard to its MV-associated form and opening new EV-based strategies for therapeutic MIF approaches.