The biology of extracellular microvesicles

Traffic. 2018 May;19(5):319-327. doi: 10.1111/tra.12558. Epub 2018 Mar 25.


The study of extracellular vesicles (EVs) is a rapidly evolving field, owing in large part to recent advances in the realization of their significant contributions to normal physiology and disease. Once discredited as cell debris, these membrane vesicles have now emerged as mediators of intercellular communication by interaction with target cells, drug and gene delivery, and as potentially versatile platforms of clinical biomarkers as a result of their distinctive protein, nucleic acid and lipid cargoes. While there are multiple classes of EVs released from almost all cell types, here we focus primarily on the biogenesis, fate and functional cargoes of microvesicles (MVs). MVs regulate many important cellular processes including facilitating cell invasion, cell growth, evasion of immune response, stimulating angiogenesis, drug resistance and many others.

Keywords: cancer; cell invasion; extracellular vesicles; microvesicles.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biological Transport
  • Extracellular Vesicles / metabolism*
  • Extracellular Vesicles / ultrastructure
  • Humans
  • Organelle Biogenesis