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Table 1 The principles, advantages, and disadvantages of conventional methods of exosomal purification

From: The significance of exosomal RNAs in the development, diagnosis, and treatment of pancreatic cancer

Method Principle Advantage Disadvantages
DC By sequential increase in the centrifugal force, exosomes can be purified according to size and density Suitable for large-volume samples
Applied to purifying Exosomes from cell medium, plasma, and urine
Relative technical simplicity
Time and labor cost
Expensive equipment
Damage due to centrifugal forces
Large sample volumes requirement
A mix of protein aggregates and lipoproteins
DGC With the sample added to the medium of specific density, exosomes can be purified from multiple contaminants by density, mass, and size Higher purity than that of DC Same as those of DC
UF By using a nanomembrane with a specific pore size and molecular weight cut-off, exosomes can be purified according to size or molecular weight Saved time and labor consumption
Fewer instruments cost
Reduced technical difficulty
Damage to exosomes
A mix of impurities with similar size or molecular weight
Loss of small size exosomes
Membrane blocking
SEC By using a porous stationary phase with a specific pore size, exosomes can be purified while crossing the pores Reservation of the biological activity and structural integrity of exosomes
Saved time and labor consumption
High yields
Good reproducibility for purification from serum, plasma, ascites, and saliva
A mix of albumin and lipoproteins
Special equipment
Precipitation With precipitation reagents added to the sample and incubation, exosomes can be enriched from serum or plasma Ease of use
High yield
Lower instruments requirements
Commercialization of precipitation kits
A mix of lipoproteins, proteins, and ectosomes
Difficult to remove the reagents from exosomes
Immunoaffinity capture With antibodies that can recognize specific proteins deposited on the surfaces of magnetic beads, exosomes can be purified while modified beads capture the exosomal proteins High purity
Commercialization of immunoaffinity capture kits
Able to separate sub-population exosomes
Damage due to elution
Expensive reagents
Low capacity
A mix of apoptotic bodies and microvesicles
  1. DC differential ultracentrifugation, DGC density gradient ultracentrifugation, UF ultrafiltration, SEC size-exclusion chromatography