Exosome-mediated communication in the ovarian follicle

J Assist Reprod Genet. 2016 Mar;33(3):303-311. doi: 10.1007/s10815-016-0657-9. Epub 2016 Jan 27.


Cells are able to produce and release different types of vesicles, such as microvesicles and exosomes, in the extracellular microenvironment. According to the scientific community, both microvesicles and exosomes are able to take on and transfer different macromolecules from and to other cells, and in this way, they can influence the recipient cell function. Among the different macromolecule cargos, the most studied are microRNAs. MicroRNAs are a large family of non-coding RNAs involved in the regulation of gene expression. They control every cellular process and their altered regulation is involved in human diseases. Their presence in mammalian follicular fluid has been recently demonstrated, and here, they are enclosed within microvesicles and exosomes or they can also be associated to protein complexes. The presence of microvesicles and exosomes carrying microRNAs in follicular fluid could represent an alternative mechanism of autocrine and paracrine communication inside the ovarian follicle. The outcomes from these studies could be important in basic reproductive research but could also be useful for clinical application. In fact, the characterization of extracellular vesicles in follicular fluid could improve reproductive disease diagnosis and provide biomarkers of oocyte quality in ART (Assisted Reproductive Treatment).

Keywords: Exosomes; Extracellular vesicles; MicroRNAs; Ovarian follicle.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Communication / physiology*
  • Exosomes / physiology*
  • Extracellular Vesicles / metabolism
  • Female
  • Follicular Fluid / cytology
  • Follicular Fluid / metabolism
  • Humans
  • MicroRNAs / metabolism
  • Ovarian Follicle / cytology*
  • Ovarian Follicle / physiology
  • Signal Transduction


  • MicroRNAs