Previously thought to be nothing more than cellular debris, extracellular vesicles (EVs) are now known to mediate physiological and pathological functions throughout the body. We now understand more about their capacity to transfer nucleic acids and proteins between distant organs, the interaction of their surface proteins with target cells, and the role of vesicle-bound lipids in health and disease. To date, most observations have been made in reductionist cell culture systems, or as snapshots from patient cohorts. The heterogenous population of vesicles produced in vivo likely act in concert to mediate both beneficial and detrimental effects. EVs play crucial roles in both the pathogenesis of diseases, from cancer to neurodegenerative disease, as well as in the maintenance of system and organ homeostasis. This two-part review draws on the expertise of researchers working in the field of EV biology and aims to cover the functional role of EVs in physiology and pathology. Part I will outline the role of EVs in normal physiology.
J Extracell Vesicles
exosomes, extracellular vesicles, in vivo, microvesicles, pathology, physiology