Label-free imaging and biomarker analysis of exosomes with plasmonic scattering microscopy

Chem Sci. 2022 Oct 12;13(43):12760-12768. doi: 10.1039/d2sc05191e. eCollection 2022 Nov 9.


Exosome analysis is a promising tool for clinical and biological research applications. However, detection and biomarker quantification of exosomes is technically challenging because they are small and highly heterogeneous. Here, we report an optical approach for imaging exosomes and quantifying their protein markers without labels using plasmonic scattering microscopy (PSM). PSM can provide improved spatial resolution and distortion-free image compared to conventional surface plasmon resonance (SPR) microscopy, with the signal-to-noise ratio similar to objective coupled surface plasmon resonance (SPR) microscopy, and millimeter-scale field of view as a prism-coupled SPR system, thus allowing exosome size distribution analysis with high throughput. In addition, PSM retains the high specificity and surface sensitivity of the SPR sensors and thus allows selection of exosomes from extracellular vesicles with antibody-modified sensor surfaces and in situ analyzing binding kinetics between antibody and the surface protein biomarkers on the captured exosomes. Finally, the PSM can be easily constructed on a popular prism-coupled SPR system with commercially available components. Thus, it may provide an economical and powerful tool for clinical exosome analysis and exploration of fundamental issues such as exosome biomarker binding properties.