Single Extracellular Vesicle Analysis Performed by Imaging Flow Cytometry and Nanoparticle Tracking Analysis Evaluate the Accuracy of Urinary Extracellular Vesicle Preparation Techniques Differently
Small extracellular vesicles isolated from urine (uEVs) are increasingly recognized as potential biomarkers. Meanwhile, different uEV preparation strategies exist. Conventionally, the performance of EV preparation methods is evaluated by single particle quantification, Western blot, and electron microscopy. Recently, we introduced imaging flow cytometry (IFCM) as a next-generation single EV analysis technology. Here, we analyzed uEV samples obtained with different preparation procedures using nanoparticle tracking analysis (NTA), semiquantitative Western blot, and IFCM. IFCM analyses demonstrated that urine contains a predominant CD9+ sEV population, which exceeds CD63+ and CD81+ sEV populations. Furthermore, we demonstrated that the storage temperature of urine samples negatively affects the recovery of CD9+ sEVs. Although overall reduced, the highest CD9+ sEV recovery was obtained from urine samples stored at −80 °C and the lowest from those stored at −20 °C. Upon comparing the yield of the different uEV preparations, incongruencies between NTA and IFCM data became apparent. Results obtained by both NTA and IFCM were consistent with Western blot analyses for EV marker proteins; however, NTA results correlated with the amount of the impurity marker uromodulin. Despite demonstrating that the combination of ultrafiltration and size exclusion chromatography appears as a reliable uEV preparation technique, our data challenge the soundness of traditional NTA for the evaluation of different EV preparation methods.