A novel strategy for facile serum exosome isolation based on specific interactions between phospholipid bilayers and TiO2
Exosomes are cell-derived, phospholipid bilayer-enclosed vesicles that play important roles in intercellular interactions and regulate many biological processes. Accumulating evidence suggests that serum exosomes are potential biomarkers for the early diagnosis of cancer. To aid the downstream molecular analyses of tumour-secreted exosomes, purified exosomes are highly desirable. However, current techniques for exosome isolation are time-consuming and highly instrument-dependent, with limited specificity and recovery. Thus, rapid and efficient methods are strongly needed for both basic research and clinical applications. Here, we present a novel strategy for facile exosome isolation from human serum by taking advantage of the specific interaction of TiO2 with the phosphate groups on the lipid bilayer of exosomes. Due to their simplicity and highly affinitive binding, model exosomes can be reversibly isolated with a high recovery (93.4%). Downstream characterization and proteome profiling reveal that high-quality exosomes can be obtained from human serum by this TiO2-based isolation method in 5 min, which is a fraction of the time required for the commonly used ultracentrifugation method. We identified 59 significantly up-regulated proteins by comparing the serum exosomes of pancreatic cancer patients and healthy donors. In addition to the 30 proteins that were reported to be closely related to pancreatic cancer, we found an additional 29 proteins that had not previously been shown to be related to pancreatic cancer, indicating the potential of this novel method as a powerful tool for exosome isolation for health monitoring and disease diagnosis.