The role of extracellular vesicles in the progression of neurodegenerative disease and cancer

Trends Mol Med. 2014 Jul;20(7):368-74. doi: 10.1016/j.molmed.2014.04.003. Epub 2014 May 14.


Extracellular vesicles (EVs) are released from many cell types, including normal and pathological cells, and range from 30 to 1000 nm in size. Once thought to be a mechanism for discarding unwanted cellular material, EVs are now thought to play a role in intercellular communication. Evidence is accruing that EVs are capable of carrying mRNAs, miRNAs, noncoding RNAs, and proteins, including those associated with neurodegenerative diseases and cancer, which may be exchanged between cells. For this reason, neurodegenerative diseases and cancers may share a common mechanism of disease spread via EVs. Understanding the role EVs play in disease initiation and progression will aid in the discovery of new clinically relevant biomarkers and the development of better targeted molecular and biological therapies.

Keywords: cancer; exosome; extracellular vesicles; microvesicle; neurodegeneration; stem cell.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Communication / physiology*
  • Disease Progression
  • Humans
  • Neoplasms / diagnosis*
  • Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Neurodegenerative Diseases / diagnosis*
  • Neurodegenerative Diseases / metabolism
  • Transport Vesicles / physiology*