Exosomes are extracellular vesicles of endosomal origin which have emerged as key mediators of intercellular communication. All major cardiac cell types-including cardiomyocytes, endothelial cells, and fibroblasts-release exosomes that modulate cellular functions. Exosomes released from human cardiac progenitor cells (CPCs) are cardioprotective and improve cardiac function after myocardial infarction to an extent comparable with that achieved by their parent cells. Cardiac progenitor cell-derived exosomes are enriched in cardioprotective microRNAs, particularly miR-146a-3p. Circulating exosomes mediate remote ischaemic preconditioning. Moreover, they currently are being investigated as diagnostic markers. The discovery that cell-derived extracellular signalling organelles mediate the paracrine effects of stem cells suggests that cell-free strategies could supplant cell transplantation. This review discusses emerging roles of exosomes in cardiovascular physiology, with a focus on cardioprotective activities of CPC-derived exosomes.
Keywords: Cardioprotection; Exosomes; Progenitor cells.
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