Isolation of extracellular vesicles from byproducts of cheesemaking by tangential flow filtration yields heterogeneous fractions of nanoparticles

J Dairy Sci. 2021 Sep;104(9):9478-9493. doi: 10.3168/jds.2021-20300. Epub 2021 Jul 1.


Extracellular vesicles (EV) in milk, particularly exosomes, have attracted considerable attention as bioactive food compounds and for their use in drug delivery. The utility of small EV in milk (sMEV) as an animal feed additive and in drug delivery would be enhanced by cost-effective large-scale protocols for the enrichment of sMEV from byproducts in dairy plants. Here, we tested the hypothesis that sMEV may be enriched from byproducts of cheesemaking by tangential flow filtration (EV-FF) and that the sMEV have properties similar to sMEV prepared by ultracentrifugation (sMEV-UC). Three fractions of EV were purified from the whey fraction of cottage cheese making by using EV-FF that passed through a membrane with a 50-kDa cutoff (50 penetrate; 50P), and subfractions of 50P that were retained (100 retentate; 100R) or passed through (100 penetrate; 100P) a membrane with a 100-kDa cutoff; sMEV-UC controls were prepared by serial ultracentrifugation. The abundance of sMEV (<200 nm) was less than 0.3% in EV-FF compared with sMEV-UC (1012/mL of milk). Despite the low EV count, the protein content (mg/mL) of 100R (63 ± 0.02; ± standard deviation) was higher than that of 50P (0.75 ± 0.10), 100P (0.65 ± 0.40), and sMEV-UC (27 ± 0.02). There were 17, 14, 35, and 75 distinct proteins detected by nontargeted mass spectrometry analysis in 50P, 100R, 100P, and sMEV-UC, respectively. Exosome markers CD9, CD63, CD81, HSP-70, PDCD6IP, and TSG101 were detected in control sMEV-UC but not in EV-FF by using targeted mass spectrometry and immunoblot analyses. Negative exosome markers, APOB, β-integrin, and histone H3 were below the limit of detection in EV-FF and control sMEV-UC analyzed by immunoblotting. The abundance of the major milk fat globule protein butyrophilin showed the following pattern: 100R ≫ 100P = 50P > sMEV-UC. More than 100 mature microRNA were detected in sMEV-UC by using sequencing analysis, compared with 36 to 60 microRNA in EV-FF. Only 100R and sMEV-UC yielded mRNA in quantities and qualities sufficient for sequencing analysis; an average of 276,000 and 838,000 reads were mapped to approximately 14,600 and 18,500 genes in 100R and sMEV-UC, respectively. In principal component analysis, microRNA, mRNA, and protein in EV-FF preparations clustered separately from control sMEV-UC. We conclude that under the conditions used here, flow filtration yields a heterogeneous population of milk EV.

Keywords: RNA; extracellular vesicle; tangential flow filtration; ultracentrifugation; whey.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cheese*
  • Exosomes*
  • Extracellular Vesicles*
  • Filtration
  • Nanoparticles*
  • Ultracentrifugation