A Research Topic from Frontiers in Immunology
Extracellular vesicles have emerged as important mediators of intercellular communication. They are membrane vesicles that can originate from the plasma membrane or have an endosomal origin. Plasma membrane derived vesicles, known as microvesicles or ectosomes, and endosome derived vesicles, known as exosomes, have a membrane orientation that is the same as that of the donor cell. They therefore carry some of the functions of their donor cells. They also contain numerous proteins, lipids and nucleic acids like mRNA and miRNA that can affect target cells in complex ways.
Extracellular vesicles are released by living cells, in contrast to membrane vesicles released by dying and/or apoptotic cells. Several types of interactions between vesicles and recipient cells have been proposed. These include: A) adhesion of vesicles to the recipient’s cell surface through lipids or ligand–receptor interactions, B) internalization of whole vesicles into endocytic compartments mediated by various receptors and C) fusion of vesicles with the plasma membrane or possibly with internal endosomal membranes. Via these mechanism intracellular contents can be released and signals transduced.
Extracellular vesicles have recently gained interest for therapeutic application in a number fields. These fields can be grouped in four topics:
3- Regenerative therapy
4- Drug delivery
All fields involved in extracellular vesicle research face similar challenges, such as the isolation, identification and quantification of the vesicles, content analysis and functional readout parameters.