Over the past decade, many studies have been conducted on extracellular vesicles (EVs) in the fields of basic and clinical research. EVs are small sized membranous vesicles generated from many type of cells upon activation by environmental stresses such as heat, hypoxia, and irradiation. EVs theoretically consist of microparticles/microvesicles, exosomes, and apoptotic bodies by different productive mechanisms. Clinically, EVs are observed in the blood stream of patients suffering from acute and chronic inflammation evoked by various diseases, and number of EVs in blood flow is often dependent on the inflammatory status and severity of the diseases. To date, it has been reported that small molecules such as RNAs and proteins are encapsulated in EVs; however, the functions of EVs are still unclear in the biological, pathological, and clinical aspects. In this review, we summarize and discuss the biogenesis-based classification, expected function, and pathobiological activities of EVs.
2016 by Japan Society for Cell Biology