Direct isolation and characterization of circulating exosomes from biological samples using magnetic nanowires

Tumor-derived exosomes are gaining attention as important factors that facilitate communication between neighboring cells and manipulate cellular processes associated with cancer development or progression. The conventional techniques for the isolation and detection of exosomes face several limitations, restricting their clinical applications. Hence, a highly efficient technique for the isolation and identification of exosomes from biological samples may provide critical information about exosomes as biomarkers and improve our understanding of their unique role in cancer research. Here, researchers from Korean National Cancer Center describe the use of antibody cocktail-conjugated magnetic nanowires to isolate exosomes from plasma of breast and lung cancer patients.

The isolated exosomes were characterized based on size and concentration using nanoparticle tracking analysis. Levels of exosomal proteins were measured by bicinchoninic acid assay and enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. Morphology was visualized by transmission electron microscopy. Immunoblotting (Western blotting) was used to detect the presence of exosomal markers.

The use of antibody cocktail-conjugated magnetic nanowires resulted in approximately threefold greater yield when compared to the conventional methods. The elongated feature of nanowires significantly improved the efficiency of exosome isolation, suggesting its potential to be translated in diverse clinical applications, including cancer diagnosis and treatment.


a An illustration showing the antibody cocktail-conjugated magnetic nanowires (Abs_MNWs) used for the isolation of circulating exosomes. b Scanning electron microscopy (left: scale bar, 500 nm) image and transmission electron microscopy (right: scale bar, 500 nm and bottom: scale bar, 100 nm) image of Abs_MNWs. c Magnetic hysteresis loop of magnetic nanowires (MNWs) and bare nanowires (NWs) at room temperature

The nanowire-based method allows rapid isolation of homogeneous population of exosomes with relatively high yield and purity from even small amounts of sample. These results suggest that this method has the potential for clinical applications requiring highly purified exosomes for the analysis of protein, lipid, mRNA, and miRNA.

Lim J, Choi M, Lee H, Kim YH, Han JY, Lee ES, Cho Y. (2019) Direct isolation and characterization of circulating exosomes from biological samples using magnetic nanowires. J Nanobiotechnology 17(1):1. [article]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *