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Exosomes: Extraction, Application, and Benefits

Have you heard of exosomes and their role in the diagnostics and treatment of diseases? Studies have shown that cell-to-cell communication performed by exosomes is a useful function that can particularly help both to identify most disorders early on and cure a number of health conditions that have never been treated before.

Here we uncover the facts on what exosomes are by their origin and why they can be helpful for a number of purposes in the medical industry. Let’s see!

What are exosomes?

Some experts define exosomes as tiny nanometre-sized vesicles that are secreted by cells into the extracellular space, while others claim they are lipid nanoparticles derived from endosomes and are as small as 40-150 nanometers in size (in some resources their diameter is determined as 50-120 nanometers).

Except for lipids that are included in the structure of exosomes, these small particles also contain such materials as proteins, DNA, and RNA. They provide means for intercellular exchange of both proteins and lipids as well as mRNA, miRNA, and DNA within the cell-to-cell communication process.

For a regular person, this description seems to be a bit confusing since it’s tough to imagine the size of nanoparticles or understand what endosomes are if you’re not an expert in molecular biology or a scientist.

Speaking easier, each exosome has the purpose of bringing certain information from one cell to another to inform a target cell how to behave in a definite situation.

For instance, if a cell from an older body is exposed to the cell of a younger body then we can see that exosomes from the younger body are able to rejuvenate the cells of an older one.

Environmental factors, chronic disorders, aging, genetic issues, and some other circumstances can interfere with how our cells communicate with each other and even influence how our body’s stem cells (raw materials used by the body to create new cells of organs and tissues) communicate with other cells.

All of this disrupts the body’s healing abilities but exosomes, while not being cells by their origin, play a vital role in communication between real cells and take responsibility for their rejuvenation.

This is why, to make the definition and functions of exosomes more clear, it’d be better to discover the benefits of exosomal treatment and the usage of these tiny vesicles in medicine.

How and where are exosomes applied?

Several implementation areas can make exosomes become irreplaceable:


MicroRNAs and proteins associated with exosomes are closely related to the pathogenesis of most disorders that humans are often suffering from. In other words, they can detect the origin of a certain disease to help find the most appropriate treatment for it.

Such function of exosomes is officially called ‘the biomarker’ which means that exosomes can become the tool for the diagnosis, prognosis, and therapy for any particular disease.


As the key purpose of exosomes is carrying the information from one cell to another, they have a high potential for therapeutic delivery. The signaling molecules carried by these small vesicles can be loaded with superficial cargo molecules to be sent to the target cells with the help of exosomes and deliver their ‘launching charge’ to the final destination.

Pharmaceutical formulations based on exosomes can be used to cure a huge multiplicity of disorders including infections of different kinds, cardiovascular diseases, neurodegenerative conditions, and even cancer.

How are exosomes collected?

Exosomes are derived from the samples of blood, urine, and saliva. There are 5 main types of exosome isolation:

1. Ultracentrifugation

A sample of blood is taken from a patient, put in a vial, and placed into the centrifuge to make the blood be separated into several layers that contain exosomes.

Such extraction method usually supposes isopycnic and moving-zone ultracentrifugation types. Isopycnic one is a separation method that allows obtaining exosomes based on their density while moving-zone one is based on the size and weight of the components.

2. Ultrafiltration

This method supposes the isolation of tiny vesicles based on their dimensions. However, it helps to isolate the exosomes of relatively low purity.

3. Polypolymer precipitation

This method separates the tiny particles with the help of their sedimentation. In other words, exosomes interact with PEG (polyethylene glycol) – a material that is able to sediment together with water-repellent proteins or molecules of fat.

4. Magnetic bead immunoassay

This method is also called antibody affinity purification and supposes that exosomes bind to the magnetic beads that are covered with exosomal marker protein antibodies that recognize the external biomarkers of these tiny particles. The exosome-magnetic-antibody assembly is absorbed and separated in the action of outer magnetic.

5. ATPS (Aqueous two-phase system)

This method supposes the liquid-liquid compartition that works using the sedimentary phase incompatibility of two polymer molecules.

Benefits of Exosomes

Exosomes have some obvious advantages if they are used for diagnostics and therapeutic purposes instead of the standard methods that are currently utilized by medical experts. So why exosomes are better? Since they are:

  1. able to travel all around the body;
  2. biocompatible;
  3. stable in circulation;
  4. have no toxicity at all.

More benefits are obvious as well:

  1. Exosomes easily overpass biological barriers including the tightly regulated boundaries like the blood-brain barrier.
  2. Their small fractions rapidly break down after release.
  3. They release growth factors and other materials that activate receptors or nearby cells.
  4. Most exosomes persist for a long period;
  5. all exosomes are found in every bodily fluid.

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