Exosomes, naturally occurring vesicles secreted by cells, are undergoing development as drug carriers. We used experimental and computational studies to investigate the kinetics of intracellular exosome processing and exosome-mediated drug efflux and the effects of exosome inhibition. The experiments used four human-breast or ovarian cancer cells, a cytotoxic drug paclitaxel (PTX), two exosome inhibitors (omeprazole (OME), which inhibits exosome release, and GW4869 (GW), which inhibits synthesis of sphingolipid ceramide required for exosome formation), LC-MS/MS analysis of PTX levels in exosomes, and confocal microscopic study of endocytic transport (monitored using fluorescent nanoparticles and endocytic organelle markers). In all four cells, exosome produc-tion was enhanced by PTX but diminished by OME or GW (p < 0.05); the PTX enhancement was completely reversed by OME or GW. Co-treatment with OME or GW simultaneously reduced PTX amount in exosomes and increased PTX amount and cytotoxicity in exosome-donor cells (correspond-ing to >2-fold synergy as indicated by curve shift and uncertainty envelope analyses). This synergy is consistent with the previous reports that OME co-administration significantly enhances the taxane activity in tumor-bearing mice and in patients with triple negative metastatic breast cancer. The experimental results were used to develop a quantitative pharmacology model; model simulations revealed the different effects of the two exosome inhibitors on intracellular PTX processing and subcellular distribution.
- Chemosensitiza-tion mechanism
- Exosome-mediated drug efflux
- Quantitative pharmacology model