Exosomes--vesicular carriers for intercellular communication

Curr Opin Cell Biol. 2009 Aug;21(4):575-81. doi: 10.1016/j.ceb.2009.03.007. Epub 2009 May 11.


Cells release different types of vesicular carriers of membrane and cytosolic components into the extracellular space. These vesicles are generated within the endosomal system or at the plasma membrane. Among the various kinds of secreted membrane vesicles, exosomes are vesicles with a diameter of 40-100 nm that are secreted upon fusion of multivesicular endosomes with the cell surface. Exosomes transfer not only membrane components but also nucleic acid between different cells, emphasizing their role in intercellular communication. This ability is likely to underlie the different physiological and pathological events, in which exosomes from different cell origins have been implicated. Only recently light have been shed on the subcellular compartments and mechanisms involved in their biogenesis and secretion opening new avenues to understand their functions.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Communication
  • Cell Membrane / metabolism
  • Cytoplasmic Vesicles / metabolism
  • Cytosol / metabolism
  • Dictyostelium
  • Endosomes / metabolism
  • Exosomes / metabolism*
  • Gene Expression Regulation
  • Humans
  • Models, Biological
  • Nucleic Acids / chemistry
  • Organelles / metabolism
  • Protein Transport


  • Nucleic Acids