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Single-step isolation of extracellular vesicles by size-exclusion chromatography

Anita N. Böing, Edwin van der Pol, Anita E. Grootemaat, Frank A. W. Coumans, Auguste Sturk and Rienk Nieuwland
Journal of Extracellular Vesicles, 2014 - 3:

Background: Isolation of extracellular vesicles from plasma is a challenge due to the presence of proteins and lipoproteins. Isolation of vesicles using differential centrifugation or density-gradient ultracentrifugation results in co-isolation of contaminants such as protein aggregates and incomplete separation of vesicles from lipoproteins, respectively.

Aim: To develop a single-step protocol to isolate vesicles from human body fluids.

Methods: Platelet-free supernatant, derived from platelet concentrates, was loaded on a sepharose CL-2B column to perform size-exclusion chromatography (SEC; n=3). Fractions were collected and analysed by nanoparticle tracking analysis, resistive pulse sensing, flow cytometry and transmission electron microscopy. The concentrations of high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL) and protein were measured in each fraction.

Results: Fractions 9–12 contained the highest concentrations of particles larger than 70 nm and platelet-derived vesicles (46%±6 and 61%±2 of totals present in all collected fractions, respectively), but less than 5% of HDL and less than 1% of protein (4.8%±1 and 0.65%±0.3, respectively). HDL was present mainly in fractions 18–20 (32%±2 of total), and protein in fractions 19–21 (36%±2 of total). Compared to the starting material, recovery of platelet-derived vesicles was 43%±23 in fractions 9–12, with an 8-fold and 70-fold enrichment compared to HDL and protein.

Conclusions: SEC efficiently isolates extracellular vesicles with a diameter larger than 70 nm from platelet-free supernatant of platelet concentrates. Application SEC will improve studies on the dimensional, structural and functional properties of extracellular vesicles.

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