University of Oulu

Bart, G., Fischer, D., Samoylenko, A. et al. Characterization of nucleic acids from extracellular vesicle-enriched human sweat. BMC Genomics 22, 425 (2021).

Characterization of nucleic acids from extracellular vesicle-enriched human sweat

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Author: Bart, Geneviève1; Fischer, Daniel2; Samoylenko, Anatoliy1;
Organizations: 1Faculty of Biochemistry and Molecular Medicine, Disease Networks Research Unit, Laboratory of Developmental Biology, Kvantum Institute, Infotech Oulu, University of Oulu, 90014 University of Oulu, Oulu, Finland
2Production Systems, Natural Resources Institute Finland (LUKE), 31600, Jokioinen, Finland
3Biosensors, VTT, Technical Research Center of Finland Ltd, Kaitoväylä 1, 90570, Oulu, Finland
Format: article
Version: published version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 4.8 MB)
Persistent link:
Language: English
Published: Springer Nature, 2021
Publish Date: 2021-07-07


Background: The human sweat is a mixture of secretions from three types of glands: eccrine, apocrine, and sebaceous. Eccrine glands open directly on the skin surface and produce high amounts of water-based fluid in response to heat, emotion, and physical activity, whereas the other glands produce oily fluids and waxy sebum. While most body fluids have been shown to contain nucleic acids, both as ribonucleoprotein complexes and associated with extracellular vesicles (EVs), these have not been investigated in sweat. In this study we aimed to explore and characterize the nucleic acids associated with sweat particles.

Results: We used next generation sequencing (NGS) to characterize DNA and RNA in pooled and individual samples of EV-enriched sweat collected from volunteers performing rigorous exercise. In all sequenced samples, we identified DNA originating from all human chromosomes, but only the mitochondrial chromosome was highly represented with 100% coverage. Most of the DNA mapped to unannotated regions of the human genome with some regions highly represented in all samples. Approximately 5 % of the reads were found to map to other genomes: including bacteria (83%), archaea (3%), and virus (13%), identified bacteria species were consistent with those commonly colonizing the human upper body and arm skin. Small RNA-seq from EV-enriched pooled sweat RNA resulted in 74% of the trimmed reads mapped to the human genome, with 29% corresponding to unannotated regions. Over 70% of the RNA reads mapping to an annotated region were tRNA, while misc. RNA (18,5%), protein coding RNA (5%) and miRNA (1,85%) were much less represented. RNA-seq from individually processed EV-enriched sweat collection generally resulted in fewer percentage of reads mapping to the human genome (7–45%), with 50–60% of those reads mapping to unannotated region of the genome and 30–55% being tRNAs, and lower percentage of reads being rRNA, LincRNA, misc. RNA, and protein coding RNA.

Conclusions: Our data demonstrates that sweat, as all other body fluids, contains a wealth of nucleic acids, including DNA and RNA of human and microbial origin, opening a possibility to investigate sweat as a source for biomarkers for specific health parameters.

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Series: BMC genomics
ISSN: 1471-2164
ISSN-E: 1471-2164
ISSN-L: 1471-2164
Volume: 22
Issue: 1
Article number: 425
DOI: 10.1186/s12864-021-07733-9
Type of Publication: A1 Journal article – refereed
Field of Science: 3111 Biomedicine
Funding: These studies were supported by the following research grants: Centre of Excellence grant (2012–2017 251314), the European Community’s Seventh Framework Programme (FP7/2007–2013; grant FP7-HEALTH-F5), HILLA, Business Finland (BioRealHealth), Academy of Finland Biofuture2025, and European Union Regional Development Fund (Printocent10). Part of the infrastructure was supported by the Academy of Finland Research Infrastructure Grant (PII-FIRI, Grant no. 32020).
Academy of Finland Grant Number: 251314
Detailed Information: 251314 (Academy of Finland Funding decision)
Copyright information: © The Author(s). 2021. This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons licence, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article's Creative Commons licence, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article's Creative Commons licence and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this licence, visit The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver ( applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated in a credit line to the data.