Atherosclerosis is an inflammatory disease in which lipids accumulate on the walls of blood vessels, thickening and clogging these vessels. It is well known that cell-to-cell communication is involved in the pathogenesis of atherosclerosis. Exosomes are extracellular vesicles that deliver various substances (e.g., RNA, DNA, and proteins) from the donor cell to the recipient cell and that play an important role in intercellular communication. Atherosclerosis can be either induced or inhibited through cell-to-cell communication using exosomes. An understanding of the function of exosomes as therapeutic tools and in the pathogenesis of atherosclerosis is necessary to develop new atherosclerosis therapies. Incheon National University researchers discuss the regulation of atherosclerosis through exosomes derived from multiple cells as well as research on exosome-based atherosclerosis treatment.
Exosome-mediated regulation of atherosclerosis
Vascular cells, macrophages, dendritic cells, endothelial progenitor cells (EPCs), and mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) are involved in atherosclerosis through intercellular communication via exosomes. These cells release exosomes containing molecules that induce or inhibit atherosclerosis, depending on the type or physiological state of the cell. Recipient cells including endothelial cells (ECs), vascular smooth muscle cells (VSMCs), and macrophages show phenotypic changes associated with atherosclerosis. Arrow indicates induction of atherosclerosis; lines with a perpendicular line at the end indicate inhibition of atherosclerosis.