Exosomes are a type of nano-scale biofilm-enclosed vesicles involved in intercellular communications, which are actively secreted by almost all eukaryotes and have been suggested to play an important role in various biological and physiological processes. Since exosomes carry biological contents informative of the original cells and can be easily harvested from body fluids, they are regarded as an emerging and promising biomarker bank for liquid biopsy. Conventional exosome detection methods such as transmission electron microscopy, nanoparticle tracking analysis, and Western blotting are cumbersomely conducted with partial information and limited in sensitivity and specificity. Thus new analytical approaches are urgently needed to facilitate exosome-based in vitro early diagnosis of diseases.
Researchers from the Chinese Academy of Sciences discuss recent advances in the development of immunoassay-based technologies for rapid exosome detection which have sparked huge interest in the last few years. A brief introduction of exosomes and general principles of immunoassays was first presented. The authors then described in some detail the studies on four major types of immunoassay technologies incorporated with specific configurations for exosome quantification as well as surface protein profiling, including single immunosensors, immunosensor arrays, immunoassays integrated with microfluidics, and paper-based immunoassays. Challenges and future research perspectives were also discussed in the field of exosome immunoassay detection.