Preparation and characterization of extracellular vesicles

Am J Reprod Immunol. 2020 Oct 28;e13367. doi: 10.1111/aji.13367. Online ahead of print.


Extracellular vesicles (EVs) are heterogeneous membranous vesicles secreted by every cell type and offer significant potential in therapy and diagnostics. Differential ultracentrifugation is the gold standard for EV isolation, although other techniques including, polyethylene glycol (PEG) precipitation, immunoprecipitation, size exclusion chromatography, and immuno-isolation approaches are common. Purified EVs can be characterized based on their physical characteristics, biochemical composition, or cell of origin. For size and concentration measurement, nanoparticle tracking analysis (NTA), dynamic light scattering (DLS), and electron microscopy are commonly employed methods. Biochemical analyses of EVs are typically performed using flow cytometry, immunoblotting, or proteomic investigation. Based on tissue of origin, EVs have specific markers that can be used to isolate and purify specific cell-associated EVs using an affinity selection approach. Despite existence of several methods for isolation and characterization, major limitations associated with each method hinder the progress of the field. Evolving concepts in EV biology possess great promise for better isolation and characterization leading to a better insight of biological function and have immense clinical implications. In this review, we discuss recent advancements in EV isolation and characterization approaches.

Keywords: differential centrifugation; exosomes; microfluidics; microvesicles.