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Exosomes are small (typically 30-150nm diameter), membrane-bound vesicles which are released by almost every mammalian cell type as a means of intercellular communication. Containing biomolecules such as proteins, mRNA or microRNA (miRNA), exosomes are selectively taken up by specific target cells, where they can influence a multitude of signalling cascades.

Intercellular communication

Exosome composition varies according to the cell of origin, and several mechanisms for exosome generation and release have been described. By transferring their cargo to neighbouring cells, or to more distant cells via the circulation, exosomes can affect many distinct physiological processes. These include immune function, stem cell differentiation, neuronal function and tissue regeneration.

Role in disease

Exosomes have been implicated in disease states which include cancer, HIV, and various neurodegenerative disorders. For example, exosomes have been shown to promote transformation of healthy epithelial cells into cancerous cells with the ability to invade the ECM and contribute to metastasis. Exosomes derived from HIV-infected cells have been found to contain chemokine receptors to facilitate HIV establishment and spread. The brains of Alzheimer’s disease (AD) patients contain exosomes demonstrating increased levels of toxic amyloid-beta oligomers, indicating a central role of exosomes in AD.

Therapeutic delivery systems

Several advantageous properties of exosomes have led to their study as agents for delivery of therapeutic agents. These include favourable stability in circulation, biocompatibility, and low immunogenicity and toxicity. Exosomes are also able to cross the blood-brain barrier, indicating their potential for use in treating diseases of the central nervous system.

Supporting exosome research

We offer a wide range of products to support exosome research. These include antibodies, recombinant proteins, kits for exosome isolation, lyophilised exosome standards and ELISA kits.

Exosome detection and characterization based on flow cytometry

A White Paper on Exosome Detection