Size Exclusion Chromatography for Separating Extracellular Vesicles from Conditioned Cell Culture Media

Madison T. Jones, Samantha W. Manioci, Ashley E. Russell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Extracellular vesicles (EVs) are nano-sized lipid-membrane bound structures that are released from all cells, are present in all biofluids, and contain proteins, nucleic acids, and lipids that are reflective of the parent cell from which they are derived. Proper separation of EVs from other components in a sample allows for characterization of their associated cargo and lends insight into their potential as intercellular communicators and non-invasive biomarkers for numerous diseases. In the current study, oligodendrocyte derived EVs were isolated from cell culture media using a combination of state-of-the-art techniques, including ultrafiltration and size exclusion chromatography (SEC) to separate EVs from other extracellular proteins and protein complexes. Using commercially available SEC columns, EVs were separated from extracellular proteins released from human oligodendroglioma cells under both control and endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress conditions. The canonical EV markers CD9, CD63, and CD81 were observed in fractions 1-4, but not in fractions 5-8. GM130, a protein of the Golgi apparatus, and calnexin, an integral protein of the ER, were used as negative EV markers, and were not observed in any fraction. Further, when pooling and concentrating fractions 1-4 as the EV fraction, and fractions 5-8 as the protein fraction, expression of CD63, CD81, and CD9 in the EV fraction was observed. The expression of GM130 or calnexin was not observed in either of the fraction types. The pooled fractions from both control and ER stress conditions were visualized with transmission electron microscopy and vesicles were observed in the EV fractions, but not in the protein fractions. Particles in the EV and protein fractions from both conditions were also quantified with nanoparticle tracking analysis. Together, these data demonstrate that SEC is an effective method for separating EVs from conditioned cell culture media.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere63614
JournalJournal of Visualized Experiments
Issue number183
StatePublished - May 2022

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Neuroscience
  • General Chemical Engineering
  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • General Immunology and Microbiology


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