A multiplex quantitative proteomics strategy for protein biomarker studies in urinary exosomes

Kidney Int. 2012 Jun;81(12):1263-72. doi: 10.1038/ki.2012.25. Epub 2012 Mar 14.


Urinary exosomes have received considerable attention as a potential biomarker source for the diagnosis of renal diseases. Notwithstanding, their use in protein biomarker research is hampered by the lack of efficient methods for vesicle isolation, lysis, and protein quantification. Here we report an improved ultracentrifugation-based method that facilitates the solubilization and removal of major impurities associated with urinary exosomes. A double-cushion sucrose/D(2)O centrifugation step was used after a two-step differential centrifugation to separate exosomes from the heavier vesicles. After the removal of uromodulin, 378 and 79 unique proteins were identified, respectively, in low- and high-density fractions. Comparison of our data with two previously published data sets helped to define proteins commonly found in urinary exosomes. Lysis, protein extraction, and in-solution digestion of exosomes were then optimized for MudPIT application. More than a hundred exosomal proteins were quantified by four-plex iTRAQ analysis of single and pooled samples from two different age groups. For healthy men, six proteins (TSN1, PODXL, IDHC, PPAP, ACBP, and ANXA5) showed significant expression differences between exosome pools of those aged 25-50 and 50-70 years old. Thus, exosomes isolated by our method provide the basis for the development of robust quantitative methods for protein biomarker research.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Aging / urine
  • Biomarkers / urine
  • Centrifugation, Density Gradient
  • Databases, Protein
  • Electrophoresis, Polyacrylamide Gel
  • Exosomes / chemistry*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Proteins / analysis*
  • Proteomics* / methods
  • Sex Factors
  • Spectrometry, Mass, Electrospray Ionization
  • Tandem Mass Spectrometry
  • Urine / chemistry*


  • Biomarkers
  • Proteins