Influence of short term storage conditions, concentration methods and excipients on extracellular vesicle recovery and function

S.I.van de Wakker, J. van Oudheusden, E. A. Mol, M. T. Roefs, W. Zheng, A. Görgens, S. El Andaloussi, J. P. G. Sluijter, P. Vader

Published: January 2022


Extracellular vesicles (EVs) are phospholipid bilayer enclosed vesicles which play an important role in intercellular communication. To date, many studies have focused on therapeutic application of EVs. However, to progress EV applications faster towards the clinic, more information about the physical stability and scalable production of EVs is needed. The goal of this study was to evaluate EV recovery and function after varying several conditions in the isolation process or during storage.

Physical stability and recovery rates of EVs were evaluated by measuring EV size, particle and protein yields using nanoparticle tracking analysis, microBCA protein quantification assay and transmission electron microscopyWestern blot analyses of specific EV markers were performed to determine EV yields and purity. EV functionality was tested in an endothelial cell wound healing assay.

Higher EV recovery rates were found when using HEPES buffered saline (HBS) as buffer compared to phosphate buffered saline (PBS) during EV isolation. When concentrating EVs, 15 ml spinfilters with a 10 kDa membrane cutoff gave the highest EV recovery. Next, EV storage in polypropylene tubes was shown to be superior compared to glass tubes. The use of protective excipients during EV storage, i.e. bovine serum albumin (BSA) and Tween 20, improved EV preservation without influencing their functionality. Finally, it was shown that both 4 °C and −80 °C are suitable for short term storage of EVs. Together, our results indicate that optimizing buffer compositions, concentrating steps, protective excipients and storage properties may collectively increase EV recovery rates significantly while preserving their functional properties, which accelerates translation of EV-based therapeutics towards clinical application.

Graphical abstract

Full Access Link: European Journal of Pharmaceutics and Biopharmaceutics