Exosomes Against Inflammations + More Healing Opportunities

Exosomes are small endosome-derived lipid nanoparticles (50-120 nm in diameter) secreted into extracellular space by most types of cells.

Why are Exosomes significant?

Exosomal vesicle content includes lipids, genomic DNA, RNA, proteins.

Many studies have shown cumulative evidence that exosomes have performed many biological functions, particularly in cell-cell communication by providing means for the intercellular exchange of proteins, lipids, mRNA, miRNA, and DNA.

Its associated proteins and microRNAs that are closely related to the pathogenesis of most human diseases are invaluable biomarkers for disease diagnosis, prognosis, and therapy.

Therefore, exosome isolation and characterization become crucial to understand its biological function and therapeutic application.

More importantly, exosomes have been used as a promising carrier for therapeutic molecular delivery especially for cancer treatment due to their low immunogenicity, high biocompatibility, high drug delivery efficacy, and low cytotoxicity to normal tissue.

Besides its natural targeting surface moieties, exosomes could be engineered as needed to help its selective accumulation in cancer sites. Exosomes have exhibited increased cytotoxicity and higher killing efficacy on cancer cells in recent studies.

Exosomes have specialized functions and play a key role in different physiological processes and pathological conditions. Consequently, exosomes have attracted increasing attention in their clinical applications for prognosis, diagnosis, drug delivery, and vaccine development. Here, we give an introduction to the different clinical applications of exosomes.

Diagnostic Applications

Biomarker: Exosomes released by cells into the bodily fluids display different protein, lipid, and RNA contents in healthy and patients with different diseases, indicating that exosomes can be utilized as potential diagnostic and prognostic markers.

The collection of exosomes from different samples such as blood, urine, and saliva represents minimally or non-invasive diagnostic approaches. Thus, exosomes serve as alternatives to the traditional needle or excision biopsies due to the reduced patient pain and inconvenience, greater speed, and lower cost of analysis.

It has been demonstrated that they could be used to determine the onset or progress of multiple diseases, including cancer, neurodegenerative diseases, cardiovascular diseases, pregnancy, infectious diseases, etc.

Therapeutic Applications

Drug delivery: As natural carriers of signaling molecules, exosomes are exploited for their potential in therapeutic delivery. After they are loaded with exogenous cargo molecules, exosomes can attach to target cells by a range of surface adhesion proteins and vector ligands, and deliver their payload to target cells.

Exosome-based drug formulations may be applied to a wide variety of disorders such as cancer, various infectious, cardiovascular, and neurodegenerative disorders. Exosomes offer appealing features for drug delivery by providing the advantages of both synthetic nanocarriers and cell-mediated drug delivery:

  • biocompatibility;
  • stability in the circulation;
  • biological barrier permeability;
  • low immunogenicity and toxicity.

Vaccine Development

Therapeutic cell-free vaccine: Beyond the scope of drug delivery, exosomes may also function as therapeutic cell-free vaccines, which are antigenic substances that induce the immunological rejection of established tumors via the expansion of the cytotoxic T lymphocyte repertoire and revitalization of tumor-reactive quiescent T cells.

In brief, exosomes loaded with tumor peptides can stimulate the immune system to eliminate tumor cells and are, therefore, evaluated for their potential to be used as a cell-free vaccine.

This is a rapidly growing area of oncological drug development. For instance, Dendritic cell-derived exosomes (Dex) have received much attention as immunotherapeutic anticancer agents. Besides, studies have reported the potential use of exosomes as vaccines against infectious diseases.

Stem Cell-Derived Exosomes

Exosomes have been identified and separated from different stem cells such as mesenchymal stromal (MSC), bone marrow mononuclear stem cells (BM-MNC), and neural stem cells (NSCs). Some studies showed that they may exert wound healing and tissue repair in various physiological systems, thus providing a promising therapeutic strategy in the field of regenerative medicine.

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