Introduction: Extracellular vesicles (EVs) play an important role in cell-cell communication and regulation of various cellular functions under physiological and pathophysiological conditions through transferring their cargo to recipient cells. Molecular constituents of EVs are a fingerprinting profile of secreting cells which can be used as promising prognostic, diagnostic, and drug-response biomarkers in clinical settings.
Areas covered: The present study provides a brief introduction about the biology of EVs and reviews methodologies used for EV isolation and characterization as well as high-throughput strategies to analyze EV contents. Furthermore, this review highlights the importance and unique role of EVs in the development and progression of gastrointestinal (GI) diseases, especially GI cancers, and then discusses their potential use, particularly those isolated from body fluids, in diagnosis and prognosis of GI diseases.
Expert opinion: In-depth analysis of EV content can lead to the identification of new potential biomarkers for early diagnosis and prognosis prediction of GI diseases. The use of a more targeted approach by establishing more reproducible and standardized methods to decrease variations and obtain desired EV population as well as revisiting large pools of identified biomarkers and their evaluation in larger patient cohorts can result in the introduction of more reliable biomarkers in clinic.
Keywords: Biomarker; exosomes; extracellular vesicles; gastrointestinal cancers; inflammatory bowel disease; liquid biopsy.