Exosomes are 30 – 130 nm membranous vesicles produced by cells and serving as cell-to cell delivery vehicles.
Exosomes have external protein markers providing information about donor and recipient cells, similarly like a labeling tag with a specific data about the sender and an adress directing the package to the right addressee.
Exosomes have lipid bilayer that protects their bioactive cargo similarly as an envelope or packageing box, and allows exosomal content to reach distant recipient cells without damage.
Exosomes carry biomolecules inside their membranous envelope. For example, stem cell exosomes carry more than 170 miRNA regulating over 10 key signalling pathways1, over a thousand of different proteins related to 10 distinct bioactivity clusters, and nearly 2000 lipid species from 22 lipid classes2. The signalling from so many biomolecules contained by stem cell exosomes synergize to stimulate tissue regeneration and reduce inflammation3.
Exosomes are formed from intracellular membrane compartments during endosomal maturation process and released to extracellular space from the multivesicular body (MVE). Extracellular fluids and larger biomolecules enter cells usually by endocytosis resulting in early endosome. The endosome further matures by exchanging cargo with intracellular compartments such as Golgi complex (G), endoplasmic reticulum (ER), nucleus (N), mitochondria (Mito). At this stage, endosome undergo critical selection point; it might either fuse with autophagosome or lysosome and have their cargo degraded, or form MVE that can dock at the plasma membrane and release the multiple vesicles into extracellular space as exosomes.
G – Golgi complex, ER – endoplasmic reticulum, Mito – mitochondria, N – nucleus, Lyso – lysosome, MVE – multivesicular body, EE – early endosome
Exosomes can travel large distances and be recognised and internalised by both neighbour and distant cells. Their reinternalised cargo is further processed similarly as de novo formed endosome.
Exosomes stimulate regeneration and modulate immunity by affecting gene transcription, protein synthesis, and signaling pathways.
Find out more about exosomes in our animated explanation by clicking here:
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