Send to

Choose Destination
Sci Rep. 2016 Mar 2;6:22519. doi: 10.1038/srep22519.

Cells release subpopulations of exosomes with distinct molecular and biological properties.

Author information

Department of Physiology, Anatomy and Genetics, University of Oxford, Oxford, OX1 3QX, United Kingdom.
Cancer Proteomics Mass Spectrometry, Science for Life Laboratory, Department of Oncology-Pathology, Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, SE-171 21, Sweden.
Institute of Technology, University of Tartu, Tartu, 50411, Estonia.
Department of Laboratory Medicine, Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, SE-141 57, Sweden.
Department of Clinical Chemistry and Haematology, University Medical Center Utrecht, Utrecht, 3584 CX, The Netherlands.


Cells release nano-sized membrane vesicles that are involved in intercellular communication by transferring biological information between cells. It is generally accepted that cells release at least three types of extracellular vesicles (EVs): apoptotic bodies, microvesicles and exosomes. While a wide range of putative biological functions have been attributed to exosomes, they are assumed to represent a homogenous population of EVs. We hypothesized the existence of subpopulations of exosomes with defined molecular compositions and biological properties. Density gradient centrifugation of isolated exosomes revealed the presence of two distinct subpopulations, differing in biophysical properties and their proteomic and RNA repertoires. Interestingly, the subpopulations mediated differential effects on the gene expression programmes in recipient cells. In conclusion, we demonstrate that cells release distinct exosome subpopulations with unique compositions that elicit differential effects on recipient cells. Further dissection of exosome heterogeneity will advance our understanding of exosomal biology in health and disease and accelerate the development of exosome-based diagnostics and therapeutics.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Nature Publishing Group Icon for PubMed Central
Loading ...
Support Center