Dynamics of exosome internalization and trafficking

J Cell Physiol. 2013 Jul;228(7):1487-95. doi: 10.1002/jcp.24304.


Cells release exosomes into extracellular medium. Although the important roles of exosomes in many physiological and pathological processes are being revealed, the mechanism of exosome-cell interaction remains unclear. In this article, employing real-time fluorescence microscopy, the motion of exosomes on the plasma membrane or in the cytoplasm of recipient PC12 cells was observed directly. In addition, several motion modes of exosomes were revealed by single particle tracking (SPT). The changes between motion modes were also detected, presenting the dynamic courses of exosome attachment onto plasma membrane and exosome uptake. Octadecyl rhodamine B chloride (R18) was found to be useful to distinguish endocytosis from fusion during exosome uptake. Colocalization with organelle markers showed exosomes were sorted to acidic vesicles after internalization. The results provide new sight into the exosome-cell interaction mode and the intercellular trafficking of exosomes. This study will help to understand the roles of exosomes at cell level.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biological Transport, Active
  • Computer Systems
  • Endocytosis
  • Exosomes / physiology*
  • Fluorescent Dyes
  • Lysosomes / physiology
  • Microscopy, Fluorescence
  • Models, Biological
  • Movement / physiology
  • PC12 Cells
  • Rats
  • Rhodamines


  • Fluorescent Dyes
  • Rhodamines
  • octadecyl Rhodamine B chloride