Smart nanoscale extracellular vesicles in the brain: unveiling their biology, diagnostic potential, and therapeutic applications

Information exchange is essential for the brain, where it communicates the physiological and pathological signals to the periphery and vice versa. Extracellular vesicles (EVs) are a heterogeneous group of membrane-bound cellular informants actively transferring informative calls to and from the brain via lipids, proteins, and nucleic acid cargos. In recent years, EVs have also been widely used to understand brain function, given their “cell-like” properties. On the one hand, the presence of neuron and astrocyte-derived EVs in biological fluids have been exploited as biomarkers to understand the mechanisms and progression of multiple neurological disorders; on the other, EVs have been used in designing targeted therapies due to their potential to cross the blood-brain-barrier (BBB). Despite the expanding literature on EVs in the context of central nervous system (CNS) physiology and related disorders, a comprehensive compilation of the existing knowledge still needs to be made available.

Researchers at the University of California San Francisco provide a detailed insight into the multifaceted role of brain-derived extracellular vesicles (BDEVs) in the intricate regulation of brain physiology. Their focus extends to the significance of these EVs in a spectrum of disorders, including brain tumors, neurodegenerative conditions, neuropsychiatric diseases, autoimmune disorders, and others. Throughout the review, parallels are drawn for using EVs as biomarkers for various disorders, evaluating their utility in early detection and monitoring. Additionally, the researchers discuss the promising prospects of utilizing EVs in targeted therapy while acknowledging the existing limitations and challenges associated with their applications in clinical scenarios. A foundational comprehension of the current state-of-the-art in EV research is essential for informing the design of future studies.

Onkar A, Khan F, Goenka A, Rajendran RL, Dmello C, Hong CM, Mubin N, Gangadaran P, Ahn BC. (2024) Smart Nanoscale Extracellular Vesicles in the Brain: Unveiling their Biology, Diagnostic Potential, and Therapeutic Applications. ACS Appl Mater Interfaces [Epub ahead of print]. [abstract]

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