Exosome Secretion — More Than Simple Waste Disposal? Implications for Physiology, Diagnostics and Therapeutics
Less than 100 nm in size and spherical in form - exosomes – vesicles expelled and taken up by cells, have ignited a new-found fascination. One which is derived from the sheer variety of exosomal content, ranging from microRNAs to transcription factors, capable of affecting a multitude of processes and pathways simultaneously within a target cell. Initially dismissed in 1983 as a waste disposal mechanism, today they form an entire field of research, being documented thus far in invertebrates, mammals, pathogens and potentially some plants. Many studies have suggested these spherical enigmas may possess a function, being implicated in processes ranging from animal behaviour to viral infection. This review will evaluate the evidence for the role of exosomes in physiology and pathophysiology, as well as their potential for application in the diagnosis and treatment of disease.
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