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Cells ; 10(3)2021 03 04.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1125522


Since the outbreak of the COVID-19 crisis, the handling of biological samples from confirmed or suspected SARS-CoV-2-positive individuals demanded the use of inactivation protocols to ensure laboratory operators' safety. While not standardized, these practices can be roughly divided into two categories, namely heat inactivation and solvent-detergent treatments. These routine procedures should also apply to samples intended for Extracellular Vesicles (EVs) analysis. Assessing the impact of virus-inactivating pre-treatments is therefore of pivotal importance, given the well-known variability introduced by different pre-analytical steps on downstream EVs isolation and analysis. Arguably, shared guidelines on inactivation protocols tailored to best address EVs-specific requirements will be needed among the analytical community, yet deep investigations in this direction have not yet been reported. We here provide insights into SARS-CoV-2 inactivation practices to be adopted prior to serum EVs analysis by comparing solvent/detergent treatment vs. heat inactivation. Our analysis entails the evaluation of EVs recovery and purity along with biochemical, biophysical and biomolecular profiling by means of a set of complementary analytical techniques: Nanoparticle Tracking Analysis, Western Blotting, Atomic Force Microscopy, miRNA content (digital droplet PCR) and tetraspanin assessment by microarrays. Our data suggest an increase in ultracentrifugation (UC) recovery following heat treatment; however, it is accompanied by a marked enrichment in EVs-associated contaminants. On the other hand, solvent/detergent treatment is promising for small EVs (<150 nm range), yet a depletion of larger vesicular entities was detected. This work represents a first step towards the identification of optimal serum inactivation protocols targeted to EVs analysis.

COVID-19/blood , Containment of Biohazards/methods , Extracellular Vesicles/chemistry , Virus Inactivation , COVID-19/virology , Detergents/pharmacology , Extracellular Vesicles/drug effects , Extracellular Vesicles/genetics , Hot Temperature , Humans , MicroRNAs/analysis , Microarray Analysis , Microscopy, Atomic Force , SARS-CoV-2 , Tetraspanins/analysis , Ultracentrifugation