1 June 2013
Cell derived extracellular vesicles are submicron structures surrounded by phospholipid bilayer and released by both prokaryotic and eukaryotic cells. The sizes of these vesicles roughly fall into the size ranges of microbes, and they represent efficient delivery platforms targeting complex molecular information to professional antigen presenting cells. Critical roles of these naturally formulated units of information have been described in many physiological and pathological processes. Extracellular vesicles are not only potential biomarkers and possible pathogenic factors in numerous diseases, but they are also considered as emerging therapeutic targets and therapeutic vehicles. Strikingly, current drug delivery systems, designed to convey therapeutic proteins and peptides (such as liposomes), show many similarities to extracellular vesicles. Here we review some aspects of therapeutic implementation of natural, cell-derived extracellular vesicles in human diseases. Exploration of molecular and functional details of extracellular vesicle release and action may provide important lessons for the design of future drug delivery systems.