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Front. Mol. Biosci. | doi: 10.3389/fmolb.2017.00079

Technical advances to study extracellular vesicles

  • 1Genomics and Child Health, Queen Mary University of London, United Kingdom

Extracellular vesicles are a heterogeneous and dynamic group of bi-lipid membrane nanoparticles that can be classified into three different groups depending on their cellular origin: exosomes, microvesicles and apoptotic bodies. They are produced by different cell types and can be isolated from almost all body fluids. EVs contain a variety of proteins, lipids, nucleic acids and metabolites which regulate a number of biological and pathological scenarios both locally and systemically. Different techniques have been described in order to determine EV isolation, release, uptake and cargo. Although standard techniques such as immunoblotting, fluorescent microscopy and electron microscopy are still being used to characterise and visualise EVs, in the last years, more fine-tuned techniques are emerging. For example, EV uptake can be specifically determined at a single cell level using the Cre reporter methodology and bioluminescence based-methods reports have been employed to determine both EV release and uptake. In addition, techniques for cargo identification have also enormously evolved during these years. Classical mass spectrometry and next generation sequencing have been used in the past, but nowadays, advances in these tools have facilitated a more in depth characterisation of the EV content. In this review, we aim to assess the standard and latest technical advances for studying EV biology in different biological systems.

Keywords: Extracellular vesicles (EVs), Exosomes, Microvesicles (MVs), technique, methods, novel

Received: 02 Aug 2017; Accepted: 13 Nov 2017.

Edited by:

Alexander N. Kapustin, AstraZeneca (United Kingdom), United Kingdom

Reviewed by:

Vito De Pinto, Università degli Studi di Catania, Italy
Chris Gardiner, University College London, United Kingdom
Ivana Milic, Aston University, Birmingham, United Kingdom  

Copyright: © 2017 Carpintero-Fernández, Fafián-Labora and O'Loghlen. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) or licensor are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

* Correspondence: Dr. Ana O'Loghlen, Queen Mary University of London, Genomics and Child Health, London, United Kingdom, a.ologhlen@qmul.ac.uk