Agarose spot migration assay to measure the chemoattractant potential of extracellular vesicles: applications in regenerative medicine and cancer metastasis
Marta Clos‑Sansalvador, Marta Monguió‑Tortajada, Ferran Grau‑Leal, Vicenç Ruiz de Porras, Sergio G. Garcia, Marta Sanroque‑Muñoz, Miriam Font‑Morón, Marcella Franquesa, Francesc E. Borràs
Extracellular vesicles, Exosomes, Migration, Recruitment, Agarose, Cancer, Regenerative medicine, Function, Metastasis
The recruitment of effector cells is one of the novel functions described for extracellular vesicles (EVs) that needs further study. For instance, cell recruitment by mesenchymal stromal cell derived-EVs (MSC-EVs) is one of the features by which MSC-EVs may induce regeneration and ameliorate tissue injury. On the other hand, increasing evidence suggests that cancer EVs play an important role in the preparation of the pre-metastatic niche (PMN) by recruiting their primary tumour cells. Understanding and measuring the potential of MSC-EVs or cancer-EVs to induce cell migration and recruitment is essential for cell-free therapeutic approaches and/or for a better knowledge of cancer metastasis, respectively. In this context, classical in vitro migration assays do not completely mimic the potential situation by which EVs exert their chemotactic capacity.
We adapted an agarose spot migration assay as an in vitro system to evaluate the cell recruitment capacity of locally delivered or localized EVs. Cell migration was tracked for 12 h or 48 h, respectively. Thereafter, endpoint migration images and time-lapse videos were analysed to quantify several parameters aiming to determine the migration of cells to either MSC-EV or pro-metastatic EV. The number of cells contained inside the agarose spots, the migration distance, the area occupied by cells, the directionality of the cell movement, and the Euclidean distance were measured. This multi-parametric evaluation revealed the potential of different MSC-EV preparations to recruit endothelial cells and to detect an enhanced recruitment capacity of highly metastatic PC3-derived EVs (PC3-EVs) compared to low-metastatic LNCaP-EVs in a tumour cell-specific manner.
Overall, this agarose spot migration assay may offer a diversity of measurements and migration settings not provided by classical migration assays and reveal its potential use in the EV field in two different contexts with recruitment in common: regeneration and cancer metastasis.