Current methods for the isolation of extracellular vesicles

Biol Chem. 2013 Oct;394(10):1253-62. doi: 10.1515/hsz-2013-0141.


Extracellular vesicles (EVs), including microvesicles and exosomes, are nano- to micron-sized vesicles, which may deliver bioactive cargos that include lipids, growth factors and their receptors, proteases, signaling molecules, as well as mRNA and non-coding RNA, released from the cell of origin, to target cells. EVs are released by all cell types and likely induced by mechanisms involved in oncogenic transformation, environmental stimulation, cellular activation, oxidative stress, or death. Ongoing studies investigate the molecular mechanisms and mediators of EVs-based intercellular communication at physiological and oncogenic conditions with the hope of using this information as a possible source for explaining physiological processes in addition to using them as therapeutic targets and disease biomarkers in a variety of diseases. A major limitation in this evolving discipline is the hardship and the lack of standardization for already challenging techniques to isolate EVs. Technical advances have been accomplished in the field of isolation with improving knowledge and emerging novel technologies, including ultracentrifugation, microfluidics, magnetic beads and filtration-based isolation methods. In this review, we will discuss the latest advances in methods of isolation methods and production of clinical grade EVs as well as their advantages and disadvantages, and the justification for their support and the challenges that they encounter.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Biology / methods*
  • Cell Biology / trends
  • Centrifugation, Density Gradient
  • Exosomes / chemistry*
  • Microfluidics
  • Microscopy, Electron, Transmission