Human blood plasma prepared by centrifugation contains not only extracellular vesicles (EVs) but also platelets and erythrocyte ghosts (ery-ghosts). Here we studied whether analysis of miRNA associated with plasma EVs (EV-miRNA) is affected by the presence of platelets and ery-ghosts. EDTA blood was collected from healthy donors (n = 3), and plasma was prepared by the centrifugation protocol recommended by the International Society on Thrombosis and Haemostasis (ISTH), and by a centrifugation protocol from an EV-miRNA expert lab (non-ISTH protocol). EVs were isolated from plasma by size-exclusion chromatography CL-2B (SEC2B), and concentrations of platelets, activated platelets, ery-ghosts and EVs (150-1000 nm) were measured by calibrated flow cytometry. Two EV-associated miRNAs (let7a-5p and miR-21-5p), and one platelet-associated miRNA (miR-223-3p), were measured by qRT-PCR. Measurements were performed with and without filtration using 0.8 μm track-etched filters to remove platelets and ery-ghosts from plasma and EV-enriched SEC fractions. Plasma prepared by both centrifugation protocols contained platelets and ery-ghosts, which co-migrated with EVs into the EV-enriched SEC2B fractions. Filtration removed platelets and ery-ghosts (>97%; p ≤ 0.05) and did not affect the EV concentrations (p > 0.17). The miRNA concentrations were 2-4-fold overestimated due to the presence of platelets but not ery-ghosts. Thus, filtration of human plasma is expected to improve comparability and reproducibility of quantitative EV-miRNA studies. Therefore, we recommend to measure and report the plasma concentration of platelets for EV-miRNA studies, and to filter plasma before downstream analyses or storage in biobanks.
Original languageEnglish
Article number12302
Pages (from-to)e12302
JournalJournal of extracellular vesicles
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2023

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