Extracellular vesicles (EVs), encompassing a range of sizes and functions, are a key means of communication between cells in the same tissue and between organs. Exosomes are a type of extracellular vesicle that carry a range of types of “cargo”, including small RNAs, mRNA, and proteins for signaling between cells under normal conditions, but also under stress or disease conditions. Shuttling of cargo produced in one tissue can reach distant cells or tissues and exert systemic effects. The study of exosomes and extracellular signaling is a significant focus of current study, for fundamental biological research, the discovery of new biomarkers, and for therapeutic applications. Although there have been some grants funded by NIEHS and NIH on EVs and environmental exposures, there is growing interest in identifying the roles for EVs in environmentally-related diseases, including pro-inflammatory signaling related to air pollution exposures, the transport of proteins in neurodegenerative diseases, the potential for identifying biomarkers of exposure or response, and the roles for EV signaling in other environmentally-related health conditions. The workshop will include overview talks on EV biology, development of state-of-the-art methods for EV isolation and characterization, and application of EV research to environmental exposures and disease.
- Discuss the state of the science and technology with respect to the role of extracellular vesicles and cell signaling in response to environmental stress.
- Identify research gaps and scientific opportunities for integrating extracellular vesicles into Environmental Health research.