Mesenchymal stem cells are used for different therapeutic approaches, e.g. for osteoarthritis, lesions of the tendon as well as for bone defects. Current research on the mechanism of stem cells on the repair of damaged tissue suggest an important role of a cell-to-cell communication through secreted extracellular vesicles, mainly represented by exosomes. To enhance the scarce knowledge on the functional role of exosomes researchers from Justus-Liebig-University Giessen compared as a first step different techniques to isolate and identify exosomes from the supernatant of equine adipose derived mesenchymal stem cells for further characterization and usage in functional assays.
It was possible to obtain exosomes secreted from equine adipose derived mesenchymal stem cells with three common techniques: a stepwise ultracentrifugation at 100.000 g, an ultrafiltration with 3 kDa exclusion membranes and a charge-based precipitation method. The mean sizes and amounts of exosomes isolated with the different techniques were measured by the nanoparticle tracking analysis. The diameter ranged between 116.2 nm (ultracentrifugation), 453.1 nm (precipitation) and 178.7 nm (ultrafiltration), the counts of particles / ml ranged between 9.6 × 108 (ultracentrifugation), 2.02 × 109 (precipitation) and 52.5 × 109 (ultrafiltration). Relevant marker for exosomes, tetraspanins CD9, CD63 and CD81 were detectable by immunofluorescence staining of the investigated exosomes secreting mesenchymal stem cells. In addition, transmission electron microscopy and immunogold labeling with CD9 and CD90 was performed to display the morphological shape of exosomes and existence of marker relevant for exosomes (CD9) and mesenchymal stem cells (CD90). Western blot analysis of CD9 and CD90 of exosomes ensured the specificity of the rare available respectively cross reacting antibodies against equine antigens.
Transmission electron microscopy of exosomes
Many different sized exosomes are detectable. Scale bar = 250 nm
Exosomes generated by equine mesenchymal stem cells can be obtained by ultrafiltration and ultracentrifugation in an equal quality for in vitro experiments. Especially for later therapeutic usage we recommend ultrafiltration due to a higher concentration without aggregation of extracellular vesicles in comparison to exosomes obtained by ultracentrifugation.