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Clin Exp Immunol. 2011 Jan;163(1):26-32. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2249.2010.04271.x. Epub 2010 Oct 29.

Ectosomes as modulators of inflammation and immunity.

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Department of Biomedicine, University Hospital Basel, Hebelstrasse 20, Basel, Switzerland.


Vesicles released by cells have been described using various names, including exosomes, microparticles, microvesicles and ectosomes. Here we propose to differentiate clearly between ectosomes and exosomes according to their formation and release. Whereas exosomes are formed in multi-vesicular bodies, ectosomes are vesicles budding directly from the cell surface. Depending upon the proteins expressed, exosomes activate or inhibit the immune system. One of the major properties of exosomes released by antigen-presenting cells is to induce antigen-specific T cell activation. Thus, they have been used for tumour immunotherapy. By contrast, the major characteristics of ectosomes released by various cells, including tumour cells, polymorphonuclear leucocytes and erythrocytes, are the expression of phosphatidylserine and to have anti-inflammatory/immunosuppressive activities similarly to apoptotic cells.

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