Exosomal surface protein detection with quantum dots and immunomagnetic capture for cancer detection


Exosomes carry molecular contents reflective of parental cells and thereby hold great potential as a source of biomarkers for non-invasive cancer detection and monitoring. However, simple and rapid exosomal molecular detection remains challenging. Here, we report a facile method for exosome surface protein detection using quantum dot coupled with immunomagnetic capture and enrichment. In this method, exosomes were captured by magnetic beads based on CD81 protein expression. Surface protein markers of interest were recognized by primary antibody and then detected by secondary antibody-conjugated quantum dot with fluorescent spectroscopy. Validated by ELISA, our method can specifically detect different surface markers on exosomes from different cancer cell lines and differentiate cancer exosomes from normal exosomes. The clinical potential was demonstrated with pilot plasma samples using HER2-positive breast cancer as the disease model. The results show that exosomes from HER2-positive breast cancer patients exhibited a five times higher level of HER2 expression than healthy controls. Exosomal HER2 showed strong diagnostic power for HER2-positive patients, with the area under the curve of 0.969. This quantum dot-based exosome method is rapid (less than 5 h) and only requires microliters of diluted plasma without pre-purification, practical for routine use for basic vesicle research, and clinical applications.

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