Citrus fruits are a natural source of ascorbic acid, and exosome-like nanovesicles obtained from these fruits contain measurable levels of ascorbic acid. We tested the ability of grapefruit-derived extracellular vesicles (EVs) to inhibit the growth of human leukemic cells and leukemic patient-derived bone marrow blasts. Transmission electron microscopy and nanoparticle tracking analysis (NTA) showed that the obtained EVs were homogeneous exosomes, defined as exosome-like plant-derived nanovesicles (ELPDNVs). The analysis of their content has shown measurable amounts of several molecules with potent antioxidant activity. ELPDNVs showed a time-dependent antiproliferative effect in both U937 and K562 leukemic cell lines, comparable with the effect of high-dosage ascorbic acid (2 mM). This result was confirmed by a clear decrease in the number of AML blasts induced by ELPDNVs, which did not affect the number of normal cells. ELPDNVs increased the ROS levels in both AML blast cells and U937 without affecting ROS storage in normal cells, and this effect was comparable to ascorbic acid (2 mM). With our study, we propose ELPDNVs from grapefruits as a combination/supporting therapy for human leukemias with the aim to improve the effectiveness of the current therapies.
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