Lipidomic characterization of extracellular vesicles in human serum

Suming Chen, Amrita Datta-Chaudhuri, Pragney Deme, Alex Dickens, Raha Dastgheyb, Pavan Bhargava, Honghao Bi, Norman J. Haughey

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


There is a wide variety of extracellular vesicles (EVs) that differ in size and cargo composition. EVs isolated from human plasma or serum carry lipid, protein, and RNA cargo that provides insights to the regulation of normal physiological processes, and to pathological states. Specific populations of EVs have been proposed to contain protein and RNA cargo that are biomarkers for neurologic and systemic diseases. Although there is a considerable amount of evidence that circulating lipids are biomarkers for multiple disease states, it not clear if these lipid biomarkers are enriched in EVs, or if specific populations of EVs are enriched for particular classes of lipid. A highly reproducible workflow for the analysis of lipid content in EVs isolated from human plasma or serum would facilitate this area of research. Here we optimized an MS/MSALL workflow for the untargeted analysis of the lipid content in EVs isolated from human serum. A simple sequential ultracentrifugation protocol isolated three distinct types of serum EVs that were identified based on size, targeted protein, and untargeted lipidomic analyses. EVs in the upper and middle fractions were approximately 140 nm in diameter, while EVs in the pellet were approximately 110 nm in diameter. EVs in the upper most buoyant fractions contained the highest concentration of lipids, were enriched with phospholipids, and immunopositive for the cytoskeletal markers actin, α-actinin, and the mitochondrial protein mitofillin, but negative for the typical EV markers CD63, TSG101, and flotillin. A central fraction of EVs was devoid of cytoskeletal and mitochondrial markers, and positive for CD63, and TSG101, but negative for flotillin. The EV pellet contained no cytoskeletal or mitochondrial markers, but was positive for CD63, TSG101, and flotillin. The EV pellet contained the lowest concentration of most lipids, but was enriched with ceramide. These results provided new insights into the lipid composition of EVs isolated from serum using a simple ultracentrifugation isolation method suitable for lipidomic analysis by mass spectrometry.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalJournal of Circulating Biomarkers
StatePublished - 2019


  • Extracellular vesicle
  • blood
  • exosome
  • lipid
  • lipidomics
  • serum

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Biochemistry
  • Biochemistry, medical


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