Diffusion-based separation of extracellular vesicles by nanoporous membrane chip

Gijung Kim, Min Chul Park, Seonae Jang, Daeyoung Han, Hojun Kim, Wonjune Kim, Honggu Chun, Sunghoon Kim

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Extracellular vesicles (EVs) have emerged as novel biomarkers and therapeutic material. However, the small size (~200 nm) of EVs makes efficient separation challenging. Here, a physi-cal/chemical stress-free separation of EVs based on diffusion through a nanoporous membrane chip is presented. A polycarbonate membrane with 200 nm pores, positioned between two chambers, functions as the size-selective filter. Using the chip, EVs from cell culture media and human serum were separated. The separated EVs were analyzed by nanoparticle tracking analysis (NTA), scanning electron microscopy, and immunoblotting. The experimental results proved the selective separation of EVs in cell culture media and human serum. Moreover, the diffusion-based separation showed a high yield of EVs in human serum compared to ultracentrifuge-based separation. The EV recovery rate analyzed from NTA data was 42% for cell culture media samples. We expect the developed method to be a potential tool for EV separation for diagnosis and therapy because it does not require complicated processes such as immune, chemical reaction, and external force and is scalable by increasing the nanoporous membrane size.

Original languageEnglish
Article number347
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 2021 Sept

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Funding: This work was supported by the National Research Foundation of Korea (NRF) (NRF-2013M3A6A4046061, 2018M3A9D7079485, 2020R1A2C3010322, and 2021R1A3B1076605) and by the Yonsei University Research Fund of 2020-22-0358, 2020-22-0356, and 2021-22-0061.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland.


  • Diffusion-based separation
  • Exosomes
  • Nanopore
  • PC membrane

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Analytical Chemistry
  • Instrumentation
  • Engineering (miscellaneous)
  • Biotechnology
  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Clinical Biochemistry


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