Shuttling various bioactive substances across the blood-brain barrier (BBB) bidirectionally, extracellular vesicles (EVs) have been opening new frontiers for the diagnosis and therapy of central nervous system (CNS) diseases. However, clinical translation of EV-based theranostics remains challenging due to difficulties in effective EV engineering for superior imaging/therapeutic potential, ultrasensitive EV detection for small sample volume, as well as scale-up and standardized EV production. In the past decade, continuous advancement in nanotechnology provided extensive concepts and strategies for EV engineering and analysis, which inspired the application of EVs for CNS diseases. Here we will review the existing types of EV-nanomaterial hybrid systems with improved diagnostic and therapeutic efficacy for CNS diseases. A summary of recent progress in the incorporation of nanomaterials and nanostructures in EV production, separation, and analysis will also be provided. Moreover, the convergence between nanotechnology and microfluidics for integrated EV engineering and liquid biopsy of CNS diseases will be discussed.
Keywords: central nervous system diseases; extracellular vesicles; nanomaterials; nanomedicine; nanotechnology.