Inhalation of cadmium (Cd) has been an environmental health concern with the increase in industrial activities and smoking. Cd exposure is known to affect several organs such as lungs, kidneys, and liver. In this study, we wanted to understand if Cd inhalation exposure can affect the lungs and other organs in the body. Exosomes are extracellular vesicles secreted by all living cells and are known to carry toxicants between organs. We investigated whether Cd exposure could affect exosome biogenesis and their composition. Cd exposure did not affect the viability of A549, a lung epithelial cell line and macrophages derived from THP-1 monocytes. There was no difference in size distribution of exosomes following Cd exposure. However, there was an increase in exosome concentration following Cd exposure in THP-1 macrophages. We observed significant difference in miRNAs composition in exosomes after Cd treatment. There were 8 and 2 differentially expressed miRNAs in exosomes from A549 cells and THP-1 macrophages, respectively. Our findings indicate that the response to heavy metal exposure varies cell to cell, The changes in exosome concentration and miRNAs indicates the exosomes may play a role in cell-to-cell communication.

Date of publication

Summer 6-1-2022

Document Type




Persistent identifier


Committee members

Nagarjun Venkata Konduru, D.V.M.Ph.D., Sachin Mulik Ph.D., Hua Tang Ph.D., Osamu Sato Ph.D.


Master's of Science in Biotechnology