Cookies on this website

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Accept all cookies' we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you won't see this message again. If you click 'Reject all non-essential cookies' only necessary cookies providing core functionality such as security, network management, and accessibility will be enabled. Click 'Find out more' for information on how to change your cookie settings.

Extracellular vesicles (EVs) are lipid enclosed envelopes that carry biologically active material such as proteins, RNA, metabolites and lipids. EVs can modulate the cellular status of other cells locally in tissue microenvironments or through liberation into peripheral blood. Adipocyte-derived EVs are elevated in the peripheral blood and show alterations in their cargo (RNA and protein) during metabolic disturbances, including obesity and diabetes. Adipocyte-derived EVs can regulate the cellular status of neighboring vascular cells, such as endothelial cells and adipose tissue resident macrophages to promote adipose tissue inflammation. Investigating alterations in adipocyte-derived EVs in vivo is complex because EVs derived from peripheral blood are highly heterogenous and contain EVs from other sources, namely platelets, endothelial cells, erythrocytes and muscle. Therefore, the culture of human adipocytes provides a model system for the study of adipocyte derived EVs. Here, we provide a detailed protocol for the extraction of total small EVs from cell culture media of human gluteal and abdominal adipocytes using filtration and ultracentrifugation. We further demonstrate the use of Nanoparticle Tracking Analysis (NTA) for quantification of EV size and concentration and show the presence of EV-protein tumor susceptibility gene 101 (TSG101) in the gluteal and abdominal adipocyte derived-EVs. Isolated EVs from this protocol can be used for downstream analysis, including transmission electron microscopy, proteomics, metabolomics, small RNA-sequencing, microarrays and can be utilized in functional in vitro/in vivo studies.

Original publication




Journal article


J Vis Exp

Publication Date



Adipose Tissue, Cells, Cultured, DNA-Binding Proteins, Endosomal Sorting Complexes Required for Transport, Extracellular Vesicles, Filtration, Humans, Transcription Factors, Ultracentrifugation