Focus on Extracellular Vesicles: Exosomes and Their Role in Protein Trafficking and Biomarker Potential in Alzheimer's and Parkinson's Disease

Int J Mol Sci. 2016 Feb 6;17(2):173. doi: 10.3390/ijms17020173.


Growing evidence indicates that small extracellular vesicles, called exosomes, are prominent mediators of neurodegenerative diseases such as prion, Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease. Exosomes contain neurodegenerative disease associated proteins such as the prion protein, β-amyloid and α-synuclein. Only demonstrated so far in vivo with prion disease, exosomes are hypothesised to also facilitate the spread of β-amyloid and α-synuclein from their cells of origin to the extracellular environment. In the current review, we will discuss the role of exosomes in Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease including their possible contribution to disease propagation and pathology and highlight their utility as a diagnostic in neurodegenerative disease.

Keywords: Alzheimer’s disease; Parkinson’s disease; biomarkers; exosomes; extracellular vesicles; neurodegeneration; protein misfolding; protein trafficking.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Alzheimer Disease / metabolism*
  • Alzheimer Disease / therapy
  • Amyloid beta-Peptides / chemistry
  • Amyloid beta-Peptides / metabolism
  • Animals
  • Biomarkers
  • Exosomes / metabolism*
  • Extracellular Vesicles / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Parkinson Disease / metabolism*
  • Parkinson Disease / therapy
  • Protein Folding
  • Protein Transport
  • alpha-Synuclein / chemistry
  • alpha-Synuclein / metabolism


  • Amyloid beta-Peptides
  • Biomarkers
  • alpha-Synuclein