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Talebjedi, Bahram; Tasnim, Nishat; Hoorfar, Mina; Mastromonaco, Gabriela F. and Almeida Monteiro Melo Ferraz, Marcia de (5. January 2021): Exploiting Microfluidics for Extracellular Vesicle Isolation and Characterization: Potential Use for Standardized Embryo Quality Assessment. In: Frontiers in Veterinary Science, Vol. 7, 620809 [PDF, 5MB]


Recent decades have seen a growing interest in the study of extracellular vesicles (EVs), driven by their role in cellular communication, and potential as biomarkers of health and disease. Although it is known that embryos secrete EVs, studies on the importance of embryonic EVs are still very limited. This limitation is due mainly to small sample volumes, with low EV concentrations available for analysis, and to laborious, costly and time-consuming procedures for isolating and evaluating EVs. In this respect, microfluidics technologies represent a promising avenue for optimizing the isolation and characterization of embryonic EVs. Despite significant improvements in microfluidics for EV isolation and characterization, the use of EVs as markers of embryo quality has been held back by two key challenges: (1) the lack of specific biomarkers of embryo quality, and (2) the limited number of studies evaluating the content of embryonic EVs across embryos with varying developmental competence. Our core aim in this review is to identify the critical challenges of EV isolation and to provide seeds for future studies to implement the profiling of embryonic EVs as a diagnostic test for embryo selection. We first summarize the conventional methods for isolating EVs and contrast these with the most promising microfluidics methods. We then discuss current knowledge of embryonic EVs and their potential role as biomarkers of embryo quality. Finally, we identify key ways in which microfluidics technologies could allow researchers to overcome the challenges of embryonic EV isolation and be used as a fast, user-friendly tool for non-invasive embryo selection.

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