Engineered exosomes: desirable target-tracking characteristics for cerebrovascular and neurodegenerative disease therapies

Theranostics. 2021 Aug 18;11(18):8926-8944. doi: 10.7150/thno.62330. eCollection 2021.


As extracellular vesicles secreted by cells, exosomes are intercellular signalosomes for cell communication and pharmacological effectors. Because of their special properties, including low toxicity and immunogenicity, biodegradability, ability to encapsulate endogenous biologically active molecules and cross the blood-brain barrier (BBB), exosomes have great therapeutic potential in cerebrovascular and neurodegenerative diseases. However, the poor targeting ability of natural exosomes greatly reduces the therapeutic effect. Using engineering technology, exosomes can obtain active targeting ability to accumulate in specific cell types and tissues by attaching targeting units to the membrane surface or loading them into cavities. In this review, we outline the improved targeting functions of bioengineered exosomes, tracing and imaging techniques, administration methods, internalization in the BBB, and therapeutic effects of exosomes in cerebrovascular and neurodegenerative diseases and further evaluate the clinical opportunities and challenges in this research field.

Keywords: administration routes; brain targeting; cerebrovascular disease; engineered exosomes; neurological disorders; tracking.

Publication types

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