Proteomic profiling of circulating small extracellular vesicles (sEVs) represents a promising, noninvasive approach for early detection and therapeutic monitoring of breast cancer (BC). We describe a relatively low-cost, fast, and reliable method to isolate sEVs from plasma of BC patients and analyze their protein content by semiquantitative proteomics. sEV-enriched fractions were isolated from plasma of healthy controls and BC patients at different disease stages before and after surgery. Proteomic analysis of sEV-enriched fractions using reverse phase protein array revealed a signature of seven proteins that differentiated BC patients from healthy individuals, of which FAK and fibronectin displayed high diagnostic accuracy. The size of sEVs was significantly reduced in advanced disease stage, concomitant with a stage-specific protein signature. Furthermore, we observed protein-based distinct clusters of healthy controls, chemotherapy-treated and untreated postsurgery samples, as well as a predictor of high risk of cancer relapse, suggesting that the applied methods warrant development for advanced diagnostics.
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