Rapid enrichment and sensitive detection of extracellular vesicles in a microfluidic chip

Extracellular vesicles (EVs) have attracted tremendous attention in recent years and quantification of EVs is a key issue in the evaluation of vesicle-based diagnostics and therapeutic development, but it’s quite challenging to determine whether higher protein expression signals are due to larger vesicle amount or higher protein content within each vesicle. To solve this problem, Zhejiang University researchers proposed a strategy based on staining phospholipid bilayers of EVs with lipophilic dyes to evaluate their lipid amount, which was subsequently normalized as an internal standard for studying the expression of transmembrane protein (i.e., CD63) on EVs in different samples. In addition, a microfluidic platform based on electrophoresis technology was invented to effectively enrich and detect EVs. Small fluorescent labeling molecules (i.e., uncombined aptamers) were on-chip removed from EVs without pre-separation via ultracentrifugation or ultrafiltration which were indispensable in nanoparticle tracking analysis (NTA) and flow cytometry techniques and the performance of this assay is comparable to NTA. Finally, it was found obvious difference in the expression of CD63 on EVs before and after normalization based on lipid amount in plasma samples. This method is expected to provide more accurate information when comparing the expression levels of EVs biomarkers in different samples.

Ren Y, Ge K, Sun D, Hong Z, Jia C, Hu H, Shao F, Yao B. (2021) Rapid enrichment and sensitive detection of extracellular vesicles through measuring the phospholipids and transmembrane protein in a microfluidic chip. Biosensors and Bioelectronics 199(2022), 113870. [abstract]

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