Methods for the identification and characterization of extracellular vesicles in cardiovascular studies: from exosomes to microvesicles

Sean M. Davidson, Chantal M. Boulanger, Elena Aikawa, Lina Badimon, Lucio Barile, Christoph J. Binder, Alain Brisson, Edit Buzas, Costanza Emanueli, Felix Jansen, Miroslava Katsur, Romaric Lacroix, Sai Kiang Lim, Nigel Mackman, Manuel Mayr, Philippe Menasché, Rienk Nieuwland, Susmita Sahoo, Kaloyan Takov, Thomas ThumPieter Vader, Marca H.M. Wauben, Kenneth Witwer, Joost P.G. Sluijter

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


Extracellular vesicles (EVs) are nanosized vesicles with a lipid bilayer that are released from cells of the cardiovascular system, and are considered important mediators of intercellular and extracellular communications. Two types of EVs of particular interest are exosomes and microvesicles, which have been identified in all tissue and body fluids and carry a variety of molecules including RNAs, proteins, and lipids. EVs have potential for use in the diagnosis and prognosis of cardiovascular diseases and as new therapeutic agents, particularly in the setting of myocardial infarction and heart failure. Despite their promise, technical challenges related to their small size make it challenging to accurately identify and characterize them, and to study EV-mediated processes. Here, we aim to provide the reader with an overview of the techniques and technologies available for the separation and characterization of EVs from different sources. Methods for determining the protein, RNA, and lipid content of EVs are discussed. The aim of this document is to provide guidance on critical methodological issues and highlight key points for consideration for the investigation of EVs in cardiovascular studies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)45-63
Number of pages19
JournalCardiovascular Research
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2023


  • Biodistribution
  • Blood
  • Cardiovascular diseases
  • Exosomes
  • Extracellular vesicle composition
  • Heart
  • Microvesicles
  • Therapeutics


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