Extracellular Vesicles (EVs) – cell secreted vesicles that carry rich molecular information of the parental cell and constitute an important mode of intercellular communication- are becoming a primary topic in translational medicine. EVs (that comprise exosomes and microvesicles/microparticles) have a size ranging from 40 nm to 1 μm and share several physicochemical proprieties, including size, density, surface charge and light interaction, with other nano-objects present in body fluids, such as single and aggregated proteins. This makes separation, titration and characterization of EVs challenging and time consuming.
Here researchers from the University of Brescia present a cost-effective and fast colorimetric assay for probing by eye protein contaminants and determine the concentration of EV preparations, which exploits the synergy between colloidal gold nanoplasmonics, nanoparticle-protein corona and nanoparticle-membrane interaction. The assay hits a limit of detection of protein contaminants of 5 ng/µl, and has a dynamic range of EV concentration ranging from 35 fM to 35 pM, which matches the typical range of EV concentration in body fluids. This work provides the first example of the exploitation of the nanoparticle-protein corona in analytical chemistry.