The innate immunity system and extracellular microvesicles (ExMVs) both emerged early in the evolution of life, which is why its innate immunity cellular arm and its soluble-component arm learned, understood, and adapted to the “language” of ExMVs. This was most likely the first language of cell–cell communication during evolution, which existed before more specific intercellular crosstalk involving specific ligands and receptors emerged. ExMVs are involved in several processes in the body, including immune and coagulation responses, which are part of inflammation. In this review we will briefly highlight what is known about how ExMVs regulate the function of the cellular arm of innate immunity, including macrophages, monocytes, granulocytes, natural killer cells, and dendritic cells, and affect the soluble components of this system, which consists of the complement cascade (ComC) and soluble, circulating, pattern-recognition receptors (collectins, ficolins, and pentaxrins). These effects are direct, due to the fact that ExMVs affect the biological functions of innate immunity cells and may directly interact with soluble components of this system. Moreover, by activating coagulation proteases, ExMVs may also indirectly activate the ComC.
Researchers from the University of Louisville and the Medical University of Warsaw discuss the role of both ExMVs released during cell-surface membrane budding and smaller ExMVs, known as exosomes, which are derived from the budding of the endosomal membrane compartment. Finally, they provide a brief update on the potential therapeutic applications of ExMVs, with a special emphasis on innate immunity.