Size separation of exosomes and microvesicles using flow field-flow fractionation/multiangle light scattering

Extracellular vesicles (EVs) are cell-derived membrane-bound particles, including exosomes and microvesicles that differ in cellular origin, content, and lipid composition. This study reports that exosomes and microvesicles can be simultaneously separated by size using flow field-flow fractionation (FlFFF) employed with field programming and that the detection of low-concentration EV species can be significantly improved using multiangle light scattering (MALS). Researchers at Yonsei University compared the efficiency of ultracentrifugation (UC) and ultrafiltration (UF) in isolating EVs from the culture media of DU145 cells and the results showed that UF retrieves more EVs than UC. Two size fractions (small and large) of both exosomes and microvesicles were collected during the FlFFF runs and examined using Western blotting to confirm each EV, and transmission electron microscopy was performed for size analysis. Sizes were compared using the root-mean-square radius obtained from the MALS calculation. The collected fractions were further examined using nanoflow ultrahigh-performance liquid chromatography-electrospray ionization-tandem mass spectrometry for the size-dependent lipidomic profiles of exosomes and microvesicles, showing that lipids were more enriched in the fraction containing large exosomes than in that containing small exosomes; however, an opposite trend was observed with microvesicles. The present study demonstrated that UF followed by FlFFF-MALS can be utilized for the size separation of exosomes and microvesicles without sequential centrifugation, which is useful for monitoring the changes in the size distribution of EVs depending on the biological status along with generating size-dependent lipidomic profiles.

Kim YB, Lee GB, Moon MH. (2022) Size Separation of Exosomes and Microvesicles Using Flow Field-Flow Fractionation/Multiangle Light Scattering and Lipidomic Comparison. Anal Chem [Epub ahead of print]. [abstract]

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