Techniques for the analysis of extracellular vesicles using flow cytometry

J Vis Exp. 2015 Mar 17;(97):52484. doi: 10.3791/52484.

Abstract

Extracellular Vesicles (EVs) are small, membrane-derived vesicles found in bodily fluids that are highly involved in cell-cell communication and help regulate a diverse range of biological processes. Analysis of EVs using flow cytometry (FCM) has been notoriously difficult due to their small size and lack of discrete populations positive for markers of interest. Methods for EV analysis, while considerably improved over the last decade, are still a work in progress. Unfortunately, there is no one-size-fits-all protocol, and several aspects must be considered when determining the most appropriate method to use. Presented here are several different techniques for processing EVs and two protocols for analyzing EVs using either individual detection or a bead-based approach. The methods described here will assist with eliminating the antibody aggregates commonly found in commercial preparations, increasing signal-to-noise ratio, and setting gates in a rational fashion that minimizes detection of background fluorescence. The first protocol uses an individual detection method that is especially well suited for analyzing a high volume of clinical samples, while the second protocol uses a bead-based approach to capture and detect smaller EVs and exosomes.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Video-Audio Media

MeSH terms

  • Biomarkers / blood
  • Exosomes / chemistry
  • Exosomes / physiology
  • Extracellular Vesicles / chemistry*
  • Extracellular Vesicles / physiology*
  • Flow Cytometry / methods*
  • Humans

Substances

  • Biomarkers