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Biochim Biophys Acta. 2012 Jul;1820(7):940-8. doi: 10.1016/j.bbagen.2012.03.017. Epub 2012 Apr 1.

Exosomes: current knowledge of their composition, biological functions, and diagnostic and therapeutic potentials.

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  • 1Life Technologies, Austin, TX 78744, USA. sasha.vlassov@lifetech.com

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Cells continuously secrete a large number of microvesicles, macromolecular complexes, and small molecules into the extracellular space. Of the secreted microvesicles, the nanoparticles called exosomes are currently undergoing intense scrutiny. These are small vesicles (30-120 nm) containing nucleic acid and protein, perceived to be carriers of this cargo between diverse locations in the body. They are distinguished in their genesis by being budded into endosomes to form multivesicular bodies (MVBs) in the cytoplasm. The exosomes are released to extracellular fluids by fusion of these multivesicular bodies with the cell surface, resulting in secretion in bursts. Exosomes are secreted by all types of cells in culture, and also found in abundance in body fluids including blood, saliva, urine, and breast milk.

SCOPE OF REVIEW:

In this review, we summarize strategies for exosome isolation, our understanding to date of exosome composition, functions, and pathways, and discuss their potential for diagnostic and therapeutic applications.

MAJOR CONCLUSIONS:

Currently, the control of exosome formation, the makeup of the "cargo", biological pathways and resulting functions are incompletely understood. One of their most intriguing roles is intercellular communication--exosomes are thought to function as the messengers, delivering various effectors or signaling macromolecules between supposedly very specific cells.

GENERAL SIGNIFICANCE:

Both seasoned and newer investigators of nanovesicles have presented various viewpoints on what exosomes are, with some differences but a large common area. It would be useful to develop a codified definition of exosomes in both descriptive and practical terms. We hope this in turns leads to a consistent set of practices for their isolation, characterization and manipulation.

Copyright © 2012 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

PMID:
22503788
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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