Detection and isolation of cell-derived microparticles are compromised by protein complexes resulting from shared biophysical parameters

Blood. 2011 Jan 27;117(4):e39-48. doi: 10.1182/blood-2010-09-307595. Epub 2010 Nov 1.


Numerous diseases, recently reported to associate with elevated microvesicle/microparticle (MP) counts, have also long been known to be characterized by accelerated immune complex (IC) formation. The goal of this study was to investigate the potential overlap between parameters of protein complexes (eg, ICs or avidin-biotin complexes) and MPs, which might perturb detection and/or isolation of MPs. In this work, after comprehensive characterization of MPs by electron microscopy, atomic force microscopy, dynamic light-scattering analysis, and flow cytometry, for the first time, we drive attention to the fact that protein complexes, especially insoluble ICs, overlap in biophysical properties (size, light scattering, and sedimentation) with MPs. This, in turn, affects MP quantification by flow cytometry and purification by differential centrifugation, especially in diseases in which IC formation is common, including not only autoimmune diseases, but also hematologic disorders, infections, and cancer. These data may necessitate reevaluation of certain published data on patient-derived MPs and contribute to correct the clinical laboratory assessment of the presence and biologic functions of MPs in health and disease.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Biophysical Phenomena / physiology*
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Cell Fractionation / methods*
  • Cell Fractionation / standards
  • Cell-Derived Microparticles / chemistry*
  • Cell-Derived Microparticles / physiology
  • Female
  • Flow Cytometry
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Microscopy, Atomic Force
  • Microscopy, Electron
  • Middle Aged
  • Multiprotein Complexes / chemistry
  • Multiprotein Complexes / pharmacology*
  • Particle Size


  • Multiprotein Complexes