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Nat Rev Rheumatol. 2010 Jan;6(1):21-9. doi: 10.1038/nrrheum.2009.229. Epub 2009 Dec 1.

The role of microparticles in the pathogenesis of rheumatic diseases.

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Department for Internal Medicine 3 and Institute for Clinical Immunology, Friedrich-Alexander-University Erlangen-Nuremberg, Erlangen, Germany.


Microparticles (MPs) are small membrane-bound vesicles that are emerging as important elements in the pathogenesis of rheumatic diseases owing to their pleiotropic effects on thrombosis, vascular reactivity, angiogenesis and inflammation. Released from cells during activation and apoptosis, MPs carry proteins, lipids and nucleic acids, and serve as platforms for enzymatic processes in thrombosis. Furthermore, MPs can transfer cytokines, receptors, RNA and DNA to modulate the properties of target cells. As MPs appear in the blood in increased numbers during rheumatic disease, they represent novel biomarkers that can be used to assess events in otherwise inaccessible tissues. Future research will define further the pathogenetic role of MPs and explore therapeutic strategies to block their release or signaling properties.

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