Advances in exosomes technology

Clin Chim Acta. 2019 Jun;493:14-19. doi: 10.1016/j.cca.2019.02.021. Epub 2019 Feb 21.


Exosomes, also called extracellular vesicles (EVs), are membranous structures measuring between 40 and 100 nm. Exosomes, secreted by various cells of the human body into body fluids, contain protein, mRNA, miRNA, and signaling molecules. Physiologically, exosomes assist in the intercellular transport of protein and RNA. Immunologically, exosomes exhibit antigen-presenting capability. In recent studies, exosomes were found to be associated with the pathophysiology of cardiovascular, renal, neurological, and ocular diseases. In addition, exosomes may play a major role in cancer metastasis. Due to the extremely small size and scarcity of exosomes in living samples, many early studies utilized sucrose density gradient ultracentrifugation for exosome collection. However, sucrose density gradient ultracentrifugation is rather time consuming and requires large biological sample quantities. Newer exosome studies combined immunoaffinity and microfluidic system approaches for more efficient exosome collection. Our review summarizes existing methods for EV isolation and notes their advantages and disadvantages. These promising approaches are all characterized by isolation efficiency, and savings in cost, labor, and time. Optimization of current methods is a necessary step toward clinically-relevant diagnostic product production, but the fact that EVs are already widely used in disease diagnosis and treatment encourages continued efforts.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Centrifugation, Density Gradient*
  • Chromatography, Affinity
  • Exosomes / chemistry*
  • Humans
  • Microfluidic Analytical Techniques