Exosomes participate in cancer metastasis, but studying them presents unique challenges as a result of their small size and purification difficulties. Asymmetrical field flow fractionation with in-line ultraviolet absorbance, dynamic light scattering, and multi-angle light scattering was applied to the size separation and characterization of non-labeled B16-F10 exosomes from an aggressive mouse melanoma cell culture line. Fractions were collected and further analyzed using batch mode dynamic light scattering, transmission electron microscopy and compared with known size standards. Fractogram peak positions and computed radii show good agreement between samples and across fractions. Ultraviolet absorbance fractograms in combination with transmission electron micrographs were able to resolve subtle heterogeneity of vesicle retention times between separate batches of B16-F10 exosomes collected several weeks apart. Further, asymmetrical field flow fractionation also effectively separated B16-F10 exosomes into vesicle subpopulations by size. Overall, the flow field flow fractionation instrument combined with multiple detectors was able to rapidly characterize and separate exosomes to a degree not previously demonstrated. These approaches have the potential to facilitate a greater understanding of exosome function by subtype, as well as ultimately allow for “label-free” isolation of large scale clinical exosomes for the purpose of developing future exosome-based diagnostics and therapeutics.
A review of exosome separation techniques
Petersen KE1, Manangon E, Hood JL, Wickline SA, Fernandez DP, Johnson WP, Gale BK. (2014) A review of exosome separation techniques and characterization of B16-F10 mouse melanoma exosomes with AF4-UV-MALS-DLS-TEM. Anal Bioanal Chem [Epub ahead of print]. [abstract]