Exposing the Secret World of Paediatric Burn Wound Exosomes

Dr Tony Parker1,2, Mr Yong Qinkoh3, Ms Erika Weinefors4, Ms Kanchan Vaswani2,3, Dr Tuo Zang1,2, Dr Daniel  Broszczak1,2, Professor Murray Mitchell1,2,3, Associate Professor Leila Cuttle1,2,3

1Tissue Repair and Translational Physiology Program, Institute of Health and Biomedical Innovation, Queensland University of Technology, Kelvin Grove, Australia, 2School of Biomedical Science, Faculty of Health, Queensland University of Technology, Brisbane, Australia, 3Centre for Children’s Burns and Trauma Research, Centre for Children’s Health Research, Brisbane, Australia, 4Chalmers University, Gothenburg , Sweden


Burn wounds in children result in significant and long lasting physical and emotional impacts which require repeated surgeries and rehabilitation efforts well into adulthood. Burn wound treatment involves de-roofing of burn blisters, however, little attention has been paid to the composition of the blister fluid and if the constituents are beneficial to burn wound healing or not. We recently found significant differences in the protein composition of burn blister fluid from burns of different depths. Importantly, some of the most significantly over-represented proteins in burn blister fluid suggest a high abundance of small extracellular vesicles (EVs) such as exosomes. Exosomes from other body fluids are known to facilitate intercellular communication and modulate cellular function though the transfer of biomolecules between cells. Despite this knowledge, burn blister fluid exosomes and their biomolecular cargo have not been previously described or characterised.

Therefore, our aim was to isolate and to perform a basic characterisation of burn wound blister fluid exosomes.

Blister fluid exosomes were isolated by a combined ultracentrifugation and size exclusion chromatography approach. They were characterized by the expression of known exosomal markers (immunoblotting), morphology (transmission electron microscopy), and size distribution (Nanoparticle tracking analysis).

We were able to successfully isolate burn wound blister fluid exosomes and perform basic characterisation studies. This is the first time exosomes have been isolated from paediatric burn wound blister fluid. Further characterisation and functional studies will determine the effect of these exosomes on the cellular microenvironment of burn wounds.

Burn blister fluid exosomes and their biomolecular cargo have not been previously described nor their function on skin cells examined. This study represents the first examination of burn wound exosomes. Further examination will determine if these extracellular elements represent a new therapeutic opportunity for children’s burns as they have in other diseases and conditions.


Dr Parker has over 15 years of experience in tissue injury, wounds and tissue engineering research. During his bachelor degree he majored in biotechnology and biochemistry, and holds an Honours degree in Life Sciences and PhD in cell biology from Queensland University of Technology (QUT). Dr Parker is currently the deputy program leader of the Tissue Repair and Translational Physiology (TRTP) Program at the Institute of Health and Biomedical Innovation (IHBI) at QUT. He also helped establish and is Chief Scientific Officer of Surgical BioFix Ltd, a Brisbane based biotechnology company involved in the manufacture of dehydrated amniotic membrane allografts for wound and surgical application. In addition, Dr Parker is a Senior Lecturer within the School of Biomedical Sciences at QUT where he teaches anatomy, physiology, proteomics and wound science. Dr Parker’s research is focused on the biochemical implications of musculoskeletal and skin tissue injury and recovery processes. In particular, his team is internationally recognized for their wound fluid analysis expertise. To achieve this he played a key role in the establishment of the world class proteomics and metabolomics capability at QUTs Central Analytical Research Facility (CARF). His team also specializes in the utilization of 2D and 3D in vitro experimental skin wound models and has an interest in the role of exercise in the systemic release of the neuroprotective / neurorepairative protein known as the LG3 peptide which may have implications for stroke prevention and rehabilitation. He has published 28 peer reviewed journal articles in the international scientific literature, attracted over $3 million in research funding and has trained over 29 research and higher degree students.

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