Exosomes: biogenesis, biologic function and clinical potential

Cell Biosci. 2019 Feb 15;9:19. doi: 10.1186/s13578-019-0282-2. eCollection 2019.


Exosomes are nano-sized biovesicles released into surrounding body fluids upon fusion of multivesicular bodies and the plasma membrane. They were shown to carry cell-specific cargos of proteins, lipids, and genetic materials, and can be selectively taken up by neighboring or distant cells far from their release, reprogramming the recipient cells upon their bioactive compounds. Therefore, the regulated formation of exosomes, specific makeup of their cargo, cell-targeting specificity are of immense biological interest considering extremely high potential of exosomes as non-invasive diagnostic biomarkers, as well as therapeutic nanocarriers. In present review, we outline and discuss recent progress in the elucidation of the regulatory mechanisms of exosome biogenesis, the molecular composition of exosomes, and technologies used in exosome research. Furthermore, we focus on the potential use of exosomes as valuable diagnostic and prognostic biomarkers for their cell-lineage and state-specific contents, and possibilities as therapeutic vehicles for drug and gene delivery. Exosome research is now in its infancy, in-depth understanding of subcellular components and mechanisms involved in exosome formation and specific cell-targeting will bring light on their physiological activities.

Keywords: Biogenesis; Biomarker; Exosome; Therapeutic vehicle.

Publication types

  • Review