Size-exclusion chromatography-based enrichment of extracellular vesicles from urine samples

Inés Lozano-Ramos, Ioana Bancu, Anna Oliveira-Tercero, María Pilar Armengol, Armando Menezes-Neto, Hernando A. Del Portillo, Ricardo Lauzurica-Valdemoros, Francesc E. Borràs

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    113 Citations (Scopus)


    © 2015 Inés Lozano-Ramos et al. Renal biopsy is the gold-standard procedure to diagnose most of renal pathologies. However, this invasive method is of limited repeatability and often describes an irreversible renal damage. Urine is an easily accessible fluid and urinary extracellular vesicles (EVs) may be ideal to describe new biomarkers associated with renal pathologies. Several methods to enrich EVs have been described. Most of them contain a mixture of proteins, lipoproteins and cell debris that may be masking relevant biomarkers. Here, we evaluated size-exclusion chromatography (SEC) as a suitable method to isolate urinary EVs. Following a conventional centrifugation to eliminate cell debris and apoptotic bodies, urine samples were concentrated using ultrafiltration and loaded on a SEC column. Collected fractions were analysed by protein content and flow cytometry to determine the presence of tetraspanin markers (CD63 and CD9). The highest tetraspanin content was routinely detected in fractions well before the bulk of proteins eluted. These tetraspanin-peak fractions were analysed by cryoelectron microscopy (cryo-EM) and nanoparticle tracking analysis revealing the presence of EVs. When analysed by sodium dodecyl sulphate-polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis, tetraspanin-peak fractions from urine concentrated samples contained multiple bands but the main urine proteins (such as Tamm- Horsfall protein) were absent. Furthermore, a preliminary proteomic study of these fractions revealed the presence of EV-related proteins, suggesting their enrichment in concentrated samples. In addition, RNA profiling also showed the presence of vesicular small RNA species. To summarize, our results demonstrated that concentrated urine followed by SEC is a suitable option to isolate EVs with low presence of soluble contaminants. This methodology could permit more accurate analyses of EV-related biomarkers when further characterized by -omics technologies compared with other approaches.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)1-11
    JournalJournal of Extracellular Vesicles
    Issue number2015
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2015


    • Biomarker
    • Extracellular vesicles
    • Size-exclusion chromatography
    • Urine


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