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Cardiovasc Res. 2013 Oct 1;100(1):7-18. doi: 10.1093/cvr/cvt161. Epub 2013 Jun 16.

MicroRNA-containing microvesicles regulating inflammation in association with atherosclerotic disease.

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Atherosclerosis and Metabolism Unit, Department of Cardiovascular Sciences, KU Leuven, Herestraat 49, PB 705, Leuven B-3000, Belgium.


In addition to intracellular organelles, eukaryotic cells contain extracellular organelles which are released, or shed, into the microenvironment. In practice, most human studies have examined mixed populations containing both exosomes and shedding microvesicles (also called ectosomes or microparticles); only a few studies have rigorously distinguished between the two. Accordingly, in this review, exosomes and shedding microvesicles are collectively called microvesicles. The first aim of this review was to discuss the role of microvesicles in cell-to-cell communication in general and in specific interactions between cells in chronic inflammation associated with atherosclerotic disease. Hereby, we focused on cell-specific microvesicles derived from platelets, endothelial cells and monocyte and monocyte-derived cells. The latter were also found to be associated with inflammation in obesity and type 2 diabetes prior to atherosclerotic disease, and cancer. Our second aim was to discuss specific changes in microvesicle content in relation with inflammation associated with metabolic and atherosclerotic disease, and cancer. Because many studies supported the putative diagnostic value of microRNAs, we emphasized therein changes in microRNA content rather than protein or lipid content. The most interesting microRNAs in inflammatory microvesicles in association with metabolic and cardiovascular diseases were found to be the let-7 family, miR-17/92 family, miR-21, miR-29, miR-126, miR-133, miR-146, and miR-155. These data warrant further investigation of the potential of microvesicles as putative biomarkers and as novel carriers for the cell-specific transfer of microRNAs and other therapeutic agents.


Atherosclerotic disease; Cell-to-cell communication; Inflammation; MicroRNAs; Microvesicles

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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