Exosomes are membrane-bound nanovesicles that transport molecular signals between cells. This study determined changes in maternal plasma exosome proteomics contents in term and preterm births. Maternal plasma (MP) samples were collected from group 1: term not in labor (TNIL, n = 13); group 2: term in labor (TL, n = 11); group 3: preterm premature rupture of membranes (pPROM, n = 8); and group 4: preterm birth (PTB, n = 13). Exosomes isolated from plasma by differential density centrifugation followed by size exclusion chromatography were characterized by morphology (electron microscopy), quantity and size (nanoparticle tracking analysis), and markers (western blot). A quantitative, information-independent acquisition [sequential windowed acquisition of all theoretical mass spectra (SWATH-MS)] approach was used to determine the protein profile in exosomes. Ingenuity Pathway Analysis determined pathways associated with the protein profile identified in exosomes. MP exosomes were spherical, had a mean diameter of 120 nm, and were positive for exosomal proteins CD63 and TSG101 irrespective of pregnancy status. No distinct changes in exosome quantities were seen in maternal circulation across the groups. SWATH-MS identified 72 statistically significant proteins across the groups studied. Bioinformatics analysis showed the proteins within the exosomes in TNIL, TL, pPROM, and PTB target pathways mainly associated with inflammatory and metabolic signals. Exosomal data suggest that homeostatic imbalances, specifically inflammatory and endocrine signaling, might disrupt pregnancy maintenance resulting in labor-related changes both at term and preterm. Reflection of physiologic changes in exosomes is suggestive of its usefulness as biomarkers and cellular function indicators.
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