Asthma is a chronic inflammatory disease of the airways with a complex pathophysiology, making the development of diagnostic and therapeutic tools a challenge. Exosomes are extracellular membranous nanovesicles implicated in intercellular communication. Exosome composition and cargo are highly heterogeneous depending on their cellular origin and physiological state. They contain proteins (tetraspanins, heat-shock proteins), nucleic acids (RNA, microRNA), and lipids (ceramides, cholesterol, sphingolipids). Current scientific advances show that exosomes play a pivotal role in the pathology of asthma as well as other inflammatory diseases, and all types of inflammatory cells (neutrophils, dendritic cells, lymphocytes, eosinophils) release exosomes. Also, structural lung cells such as airway epithelial cells and airway smooth muscle cells produce and secrete these nanovesicles. Exosomes influence and modify the functionality of these inflammatory and structural cells, triggering the characteristic processes of asthma disease. Additionally, exosomes are used as biomarkers in several disorders because they are easier to collect from different biofluids, making them a non-invasive method for screening human pathologies. Also, due to their special molecular characteristics, they can be loaded with different molecules and employed as a drug-delivery vehicle. Researchers from the IIS-Fundación Jiménez Díaz discuss recent advances related to the role of exosomes in asthma disease.
Exosomes – a new approach to asthma pathology
Cañas JA, Sastre B, Rodrigo-Muñoz JM, Del Pozo V. (2019) Exosomes: A new approach to asthma pathology. Clin Chim Acta 495:139-147. [abstract]