Last Updated: 15-06-2018 7:08
Extracellular vesicles (EVs) are a heterogeneous population of membrane vesicles, which are shed from cells in vitro or are released into various body fluids in vivo, like blood plasma, cerebrospinal fluid, urine, and others. According to their size and site of formation, EVs are subdivided into exosomes, microvesicles and apoptotic bodies. Microvesicles (100 – 1000 nm in diameter) are formed directly at the plasma membrane by outward budding, whereas exosomes (30 to 150 nm in diameter) are formed as intraluminal vesicles in multivesicular bodies, which fuse with the plasma membrane to release them extracellularly. EVs consist of a lipid bilayer membrane that surrounds a small amount of cytosol, and they contain various typical proteins, lipids and nucleic acids, which mirror the composition of the cell of origin. EVs have an important role in physiological processes and various pathological conditions and thus have promising potential for human diagnostics and therapeutic applications.