Isolating Multiple Extracellular Vesicles Subsets, Including Exosomes and Membrane Vesicles, from Bovine Milk Using Sodium Citrate and Differential Ultracentrifugation

Bio Protoc. 2020 Jun 5;10(11):e3636. doi: 10.21769/BioProtoc.3636.


Milk is a complex fluid that contains various types of proteins and extracellular vesicles (EVs). Some proteins can mingle with EVs, and interfere with their isolation. Among these proteins, caseins form micelles of a size comparable to milk EVs, and can thus be co-isolated with EVs. Preliminary steps that affect milk are crucial for EV isolation and impact the purity and abundance of isolated EVs. In the course of our previous works on cow's milk EVs, we found that sodium citrate (1% final), which is a biocompatible reagent capable of breaking down casein micelles into 40-nm monomers, allowed the isolation of high quantities of EVs with low coprecipitation of caseins or other contaminating proteins. Using this protocol, we successfully separated different EV subsets, characterized in depth their morphology, protein content and small RNA enrichment patterns. We were also able to describe their biological function in a mouse model of intestinal inflammation. We, hereby, detail the differential ultracentrifugation procedure that leads to high quantify, medium specificity, isolation of different milk EV subsets from the same sample. More specifically, we highlight the use of sodium citrate as a standardized approach to isolate and study milk EVs and its potential for isolation techniques other than differential ultracentrifugation.

Keywords: Bovine Milk; Casein; Citrate; EVs; Exosomes; Extracellular Vesicles; Microvesicles; Milk; Ultracentrifugation.