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19.05.2017 | Review | Ausgabe 2/2017 Open Access

Cardiology and Therapy 2/2017

Exosomes in Cardiovascular Medicine

Cardiology and Therapy > Ausgabe 2/2017
Iain M. Dykes
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A correction to this article is available online at https://​doi.​org/​10.​1007/​s40119-018-0105-2.


Exosomes are small, extracellular membrane-bound particles that mediate intercellular transport of a cytosolic cargo. Exosomal transfer of micro-RNA can modify gene expression in targeted cells. Exosome-based endocrine/paracrine signaling has been shown to be involved in a wide range of physiological processes including those associated with cardiovascular injury and disease, but remains relatively poorly understood. Exosomes offer great potential to the clinical field, with applications in both diagnostics and therapeutics. A stable, circulating form of micro-RNA exists in blood protected from endogenous nucleases. This population of micro-RNA, which includes both exosomal and non-exosomal fractions, may be isolated from blood and exploited as a novel disease biomarker with the potential to deliver increased specificity and rapid diagnosis compared to conventional biomarkers. Exosomes also offer a natural drug-delivery vehicle, providing immune evasion and specific targeting through engineering of surface-displayed ligands. Much of the cardioprotective and regenerative benefits of stem-cell grafts are now thought to derive from paracrine signaling rather than direct tissue incorporation and therefore stem cell-derived exosomes offer the potential for a convenient cell-free therapeutic option, eliminating many of the risks and variability associated with stem-cell therapy. In this review, we consider the potential applications of this emerging field to cardiovascular medicine, taking myocardial infarction as our primary example.
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