Extracellular vesicles in metabolic disease

Diabetologia. 2019 Dec;62(12):2179-2187. doi: 10.1007/s00125-019-05014-5. Epub 2019 Nov 5.


Extracellular vesicles (EVs) are submicron-sized lipid envelopes that are produced and released from a parent cell and can be taken up by a recipient cell. EVs are capable of mediating cellular signalling by carrying nucleic acids, proteins, lipids and cellular metabolites between cells and organs. Metabolic dysfunction is associated with changes in plasma concentrations of EVs as well as alterations in their EV cargo. Since EVs can act as messengers between parent and recipient cells, they could be involved in cell-to-cell and organ-to-organ communication in metabolic diseases. Recent literature has shown that EVs are produced by cells within metabolic tissues, such as adipose tissue, pancreas, muscle and liver. These vesicles have therefore been proposed as a novel intercellular communication mode in systemic metabolic regulation. In this review, we will describe and discuss the current literature that investigates the role of adipose-derived EVs in the regulation of obesity-associated metabolic disease. We will particularly focus on the EV-dependent communication between adipocytes, the vasculature and immune cells in type 2 diabetes.

Keywords: Adipocytes; Diabetes; Diagnostic; Endothelial cells; Exosomes; Extracellular vesicle; Immune cells; Macrophages; Metabolic dysfunction; Platelets; Review; Therapeutic.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adipocytes / metabolism
  • Cell Communication / physiology
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / metabolism
  • Exosomes / metabolism*
  • Extracellular Vesicles / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Macrophages / metabolism
  • Metabolic Diseases / metabolism*