Cocaine‐Specific Effects on Exosome Biogenesis in Microglial Cells

Academic Article


  • Cocaine is a highly addictive stimulant and a well-known drug, with multiple effects on physiology. Cocaine can have direct effects on all cell types in the brain, including microglia. Microglia can be activated by other conditions, such as infection, inflammation, or injury. However, how cocaine regulates microglia and the influence of cocaine on microglial-derived exosomes remains unknown. Exosomes are nanovesicles that are responsible for intercellular communications, signaling, and trafficking necessary cargo for cell homeostasis. In this study, we hypothesized that cocaine affects exosome biogenesis and composition in BV2 microglial cells. BV2 microglial cells were cultured in exosome-depleted RPMI-1640 media and were treated according to the experimental designs. We observed that cell viability decreased by 11% at 100 µM cocaine treatment but was unaffected at other concentrations. After treatments, the exosomes were isolated from the condition media. Purified exosomes were characterized and quantified using transmission electron microscope (TEM) and nanoparticle tracking analysis (NTA). By NTA, there was a significant decrease in particles/mL after cocaine treatment. There was a 39.5%, 58.1%, 32.3% and 28.1% decrease in particles/mL at 100 nM, 1 μM, 10 μM and 100 μM cocaine, respectively. The characterization of exosomes and exosomal protein was performed by western/dot blot analyses. Tetraspanins CD11b, CD18 and CD63 were relatively unchanged after cocaine treatment. The heat shock proteins (Hsps), Hsp70 and Hsp90, were both significantly increased at 10 μM and 100 μM, but only hsp70 was significantly increased at 10 nM. The Rab proteins were assessed to investigate their role in cocaine-mediated exosomal decrease. Rab11 was significantly decreased at 10 nM, 100 nM, 1 μM, 10 μM and 100 μM by 15%, 28%, 25%, 38% and 22%, respectively. Rab27 was decreased at all concentrations but only significantly decreased at 100 nM, 1 μM and 100 μM cocaine by 21%, 24% and 23%, respectively. Rab35 had no significant changes noted when compared to control. Rab7 increased at all cocaine concentrations but only a significant increase in expression at 100 nM and 10 μM by 1.32-fold and 1.4-fold increase. Cocaine was found to alter exosome biogenesis and composition in BV2 microglial cells. Western and dot blot analyses verified the identities of purified exosomes, and the specific protein compositions of exosomes were found to change in the presence of cocaine. Furthermore, cocaine exposure modulated the expression of exosomal proteins, such as Hsps and Rab GTPases, suggesting the protein composition and formation of microglial-derived exosomes were regulated by cocaine.
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    Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Kumar S; Crenshaw BJ; Williams SD; Bell CR; Matthews QL; Sims B
  • Start Page

  • 1006
  • End Page

  • 1018
  • Volume

  • 46
  • Issue

  • 4