The aim of our study was to attract the attention of researchers at the problem of contamination of exosome preparations. Using a transmission electron microscope JEM-1400 (“JEOL”, Japan) we have examined exosome preparations, isolated according to the conventional scheme of sequential centrifugation from different biological fluids: plasma and urine of healthy persons and patients with oncologic diseases, bovine serum, and culture fluid (MDCK, MDA-MB и MCF-7 cells). All exosome preparations (over 200) contained exosomes, which were identified by immuno-electron microscopy using antibodies to tetraspanins CD63 or CD9. Besides exosomes, all the studied preparations contained contaminating structures: distinct particles of low electron density without limiting membrane (“non-vesicles”). Two main kinds of the “non-vesicles” species were found in exosome preparations: 20-40 nm in size, representing 10-40% of all structures in the preparations; and 40-100 nm in size (identical to exosomes by size). Morphology of the “non-vesicles” allowed to identify them as lipoproteins of intermediate and low density (20-40 nm), and very low density (40-100 nm). The highest level of the contamination was detected in exosome preparations, isolated from blood samples. The results of our study indicate the need to control the composition of exosome preparation by electron microscopy and take into account the presence of contaminating structures in analysis of experimental data.
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Oliveira-Rodriguez M., Lopez-Cobo S., Reyburn H.T., Costa-Garcia A., Lopez-Martin S., Yanez-Mo M., Cernuda-Morollon E., Paschen A., Vales-Gomez M., Blanco-Lopez M.C. (2016) J. Extracell. Vesicles, 5, 31803. CrossRef Scholar google search