Exosomes: new players in cell-cell communication

Int J Biochem Cell Biol. 2012 Nov;44(11):2060-4. doi: 10.1016/j.biocel.2012.08.007. Epub 2012 Aug 10.


Exosomes are small membrane vesicles of endosomal origin, which are secreted from a variety of cell types. During the 1980s exosomes were first described as organelles to remove cell debris and unwanted molecules. The discovery that exosomes contain proteins, messenger and microRNAs suggests a role as mediators in cell-to-cell communication. Exosomes can be transported between different cells and influence physiological pathways in the recipient cells. In the present review, we will summarize the biological function of exosomes and their involvement in physiological and pathological processes. Moreover, the potential clinical application of exosomes as biomarkers and therapeutic tools will be discussed.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Communication*
  • Disease
  • Exosomes / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Models, Biological