Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is the leading cause of death worldwide and its prevalence is expected to rise rapidly worldwide in the coming decades. Atherosclerosis, the syndrome underlying CVD, is a chronic progressive disease of the arteries already present at a young age. Strokes, heart attacks and heart failure are acute CVD events that occur after decades, however, and require timely diagnosis and treatment. Plasma extracellular vesicles (EVs) are microstructures with a lipid bilayer membrane involved in hemostasis, inflammation and injury. Both EV-counts and EV-content are associated with CVD and the identification of plasma EVs is a novel source of blood-based biomarkers with the potential to improve diagnosis and prognosis of CVD. Presented in this review is an overview of the current use of EVs in CVD and a discussion of the need for robust and easy isolation technologies for plasma EV subsets. This is needed to bring this promising field towards clinical application in the patient.
Keywords: Plasma extracellular vesicles; biomarker; cardiovascular disease; flow cytometry; microparticles; vesicle content; vesicle counts.