Nature Reviews Immunology 2, 569-579 (August 2002) | doi:10.1038/nri855

Exosomes: composition, biogenesis and function

Clotilde Théry1, Laurence Zitvogel2 & Sebastian Amigorena1  About the authors


Exosomes are small membrane vesicles of endocytic origin that are secreted by most cells in culture. Interest in exosomes has intensified after their recent description in antigen-presenting cells and the observation that they can stimulate immune responses in vivo. In the past few years, several groups have reported the secretion of exosomes by various cell types, and have discussed their potential biological functions. Here, we describe the physical properties that define exosomes as a specific population of secreted vesicles, we summarize their biological effects, particularly on the immune system, and we discuss the potential roles that secreted vesicles could have as intercellular messengers.

Author affiliations

  1. INSERM U520, Institut Curie, 12 rue Lhomond, 75005 Paris, France.
  2. ERIT-M 0208 INSERM, Institut Gustave Roussy, 39 rue Camille Desmoulins, 94805 Villejuif, France.

Correspondence to: Clotilde Théry1 Email:

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