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Curr Pharm Des. 2019;25(42):4510-4522. doi: 10.2174/1381612825666191113103537.

Neurotoxic and Neuroprotective Role of Exosomes in Parkinson's Disease.

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Department of Translational Research and New Technologies in Medicine and Surgery, University of Pisa, Italy.
Department of Biotechnological and Applied Clinical Sciences, University of L'Aquila, Italy.
Department of Radiotherapy, "Sapienza" University of Rome, Rome, Italy.
Institute of Molecular Cell and Systems Biology, University of Glasgow, United Kingdom.


Exosomes are extracellular vesicles produced by eukaryotic cells that are also found in most biological fluids and tissues. While they were initially thought to act as compartments for removal of cellular debris, they are now recognized as important tools for cell-to-cell communication and for the transfer of pathogens between the cells. They have attracted particular interest in neurodegenerative diseases for their potential role in transferring prion-like proteins between neurons, and in Parkinson's disease (PD), they have been shown to spread oligomers of α-synuclein in the brain accelerating the progression of this pathology. A potential neuroprotective role of exosomes has also been equally proposed in PD as they could limit the toxicity of α-synuclein by clearing them out of the cells. Exosomes have also attracted considerable attention for use as drug vehicles. Being nonimmunogenic in nature, they provide an unprecedented opportunity to enhance the delivery of incorporated drugs to target cells. In this review, we discuss current knowledge about the potential neurotoxic and neuroprotective role of exosomes and their potential application as drug delivery systems in PD.


Exosomes; Parkinson’s disease; biomarkers; blood-brain barrier; dopaminergic neurons; drug delivery.

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