Challenges and directions in studying cell–cell communication by extracellular vesicles

Extracellular vesicles (EVs) are increasingly recognized as important mediators of intercellular communication. They have important roles in numerous physiological and pathological processes, and show considerable promise as novel biomarkers of disease, as therapeutic agents and as drug delivery vehicles. Intriguingly, however, understanding of the cellular and molecular mechanisms that govern the many observed functions of EVs remains far from comprehensive, at least partly due to technical challenges in working with these small messengers. A team led by researchers at the Université de Paris highlight areas of consensus as well as contentious issues in our understanding of the intracellular and intercellular journey of EVs: from biogenesis, release and dynamics in the extracellular space, to interaction with and uptake by recipient cells. The researchers define knowledge gaps, identify key questions and challenges, and make recommendations on how to address these.

Key questions and challenges in studying EV biology

Fig. 3

Schematic representation of the journey of extracellular vesicles (EVs) and other means of intercellular communication between a producing and a receiving cell by autocrine, paracrine and endocrine routes. The coloured boxes highlight key questions and main challenges for the field.

van Niel, G., Carter, D.R.F., Clayton, A. et al. (2022) Challenges and directions in studying cell–cell communication by extracellular vesicles. Nat Rev Mol Cell Biol [Epub ahead of print]. [abstract]

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