Visualization and in vivo tracking of the exosomes of murine melanoma B16-BL6 cells in mice after intravenous injection

J Biotechnol. 2013 May 20;165(2):77-84. doi: 10.1016/j.jbiotec.2013.03.013. Epub 2013 Apr 2.


The development of exosomes as delivery vehicles requires understanding how and where exogenously administered exosomes are distributed in vivo. In the present study, we designed a fusion protein consisting of Gaussia luciferase and a truncated lactadherin, gLuc-lactadherin, and constructed a plasmid expressing the fusion protein. B16-BL6 murine melanoma cells were transfected with the plasmid, and exosomes released from the cells were collected by ultracentrifugation. Strong luciferase activity was detected in the fraction containing exosomes, indicating their efficient labeling with gLuc-lactadherin. Then, the labeled B16-BL6 exosomes were intravenously injected into mice, and their tissue distribution was evaluated. Pharmacokinetic analysis of the exosome blood concentration-time profile revealed that B16-BL6 exosomes disappeared very quickly from the blood circulation with a half-life of approximately 2min. Little luciferase activity was detected in the serum at 4h after exosome injection, suggesting rapid clearance of B16-BL6 exosomes in vivo. Moreover, sequential in vivo imaging revealed that the B16-BL6 exosome-derived signals distributed first to the liver and then to the lungs. These results indicate that gLuc-lactadherin labeling is useful for tracing exosomes in vivo and that B16-BL6 exosomes are rapidly cleared from the blood circulation after systemic administration.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antigens, Surface
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Exosomes / metabolism*
  • Injections, Intravenous
  • Male
  • Melanoma, Experimental / metabolism*
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred BALB C
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Milk Proteins


  • Antigens, Surface
  • Mfge8 protein, mouse
  • Milk Proteins