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Emerging role of extracellular vesicles in inflammatory diseases

Key Points

  • The evolutionarily conserved release of extracellular vesicles (EVs), including exosomes, microvesicles (microparticles) and apoptotic vesicles, is a previously unappreciated type of secretion by cells

  • EVs trigger inflammation by carrying pathogen-associated and damage-associated molecular patterns or pathogenic autoantigens

  • EV-associated cytokines, lipid mediators and microRNAs contribute to the propagation phase of inflammatory diseases

  • EVs contain proteases and glycosidases that could contribute to tissue destruction

  • EVs could be used as novel therapeutic vehicles, immunomodulators and therapeutic targets

Abstract

The discovery that submicron-sized extracellular vesicles (EVs) are generated by both prokaryotic and eukaryotic cells might have a profound effect on experimental and clinical sciences, and could pave the way for new strategies to combat various diseases. EVs are carriers of pathogen-associated and damage-associated molecular patterns, cytokines, autoantigens and tissue-degrading enzymes. In addition to a possible role in the pathogenesis of a number of inflammatory conditions, such as infections and autoimmune diseases, EVs, including microvesicles (also known as microparticles), exosomes and apoptotic vesicles, have therapeutic potential and might be used as biomarkers for inflammatory diseases. Therefore, molecular diagnostics and targeted therapy could benefit from expanding knowledge in the field. In this Review, we summarize important developments and propose that extracellular vesicles could be used as therapeutic vehicles and as targets for the treatment and prevention of inflammatory diseases.

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Figure 1: Biological samples contain multiple types of extracellular vesicles.
Figure 2: Extracellular vesicles contribute to inflammation.
Figure 3: Extracellular vesicles in the inflamed joint.

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Acknowledgements

This work was supported by OTKA NK 84,043 (E.I.B.) and K77537 (G.N.), and FP7-PEOPLE-2011-ITN-PITN-GA-2011-289,033 “DYNANO” (E.I.B.). This research was supported by the European Union and the State of Hungary, cofinanced by the European Social Fund in the framework of TÁMOP 4.2.4. A/-11-1-2012-0001 'National Excellence Program' (B.G.).

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E.I.B. and B.G. researched the data for the article, substantially contributed to discussion of the article and wrote the article. E.I.B., G.N., A.F. and S.G. contributed to reviewing and editing of the manuscript before submission.

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Correspondence to Edit I. Buzas.

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Buzas, E., György, B., Nagy, G. et al. Emerging role of extracellular vesicles in inflammatory diseases. Nat Rev Rheumatol 10, 356–364 (2014). https://doi.org/10.1038/nrrheum.2014.19

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