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Systematic review of factors influencing extracellular vesicle yield from cell cultures


The potential therapeutic utility of extracellular vesicles (EVs) has spawned an interest into a scalable production, where the quantity and purity of EV samples is sufficient for clinical applications. EVs can be isolated using several different protocols; however, these isolation protocols and the subsequent methods of quantifying the resulting EV yield have not been sufficiently standardized. Therefore, the possibility of comparing different studies with respect to these parameters is limited. In this review, we have presented factors that might influence the yield and function of EVs from cell culture supernatants. The methods of isolation, downstream quantification, and culture conditions of the EV producing cells have been discussed. In order to examine the inter-study coherency of EV yields, 259 studies were initially screened, and 46 studies were included for extensive downstream analysis of EV yields where information pertaining to the isolation protocols and quantification methods was obtained from each study. Several other factors influencing yield were compared, such as cell type producing EVs, cell confluence level, and cell stimulation. In conclusion, various factors may impact the resulting EV yield, including technical aspects such as EV isolation and quantification procedures, and biological aspects such as cell type and culture conditions. The reflections presented in this review might aid in future standardization of the workflow in EV research.

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Extracellular vesicle


Multivesicular body




Size-exclusion chromatography


Ultracentrifugation with washing step


Ultracentrifugation with gradient separation


Fetal calf serum


Conditioned medium


Bicinchoninic acid


Nanoparticle tracking analysis


Fixed angle


Swinging bucket


Dynamic light scattering


Tunable resistive pulse sensing


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Correspondence to Meg Duroux.

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Gudbergsson, J.M., Johnsen, K.B., Skov, M.N. et al. Systematic review of factors influencing extracellular vesicle yield from cell cultures. Cytotechnology 68, 579–592 (2016).

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  • EV
  • Exosome
  • Microvesicle
  • Isolation
  • Quantification
  • Stimulation