Extracellular vesicles and their synthetic analogues in aging and age-associated brain diseases
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- Smith, J.A., Leonardi, T., Huang, B. et al. Biogerontology (2015) 16: 147. doi:10.1007/s10522-014-9510-7
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Multicellular organisms rely upon diverse and complex intercellular communications networks for a myriad of physiological processes. Disruption of these processes is implicated in the onset and propagation of disease and disorder, including the mechanisms of senescence at both cellular and organismal levels. In recent years, secreted extracellular vesicles (EVs) have been identified as a particularly novel vector by which cell-to-cell communications are enacted. EVs actively and specifically traffic bioactive proteins, nucleic acids, and metabolites between cells at local and systemic levels, modulating cellular responses in a bidirectional manner under both homeostatic and pathological conditions. EVs are being implicated not only in the generic aging process, but also as vehicles of pathology in a number of age-related diseases, including cancer and neurodegenerative and disease. Thus, circulating EVs—or specific EV cargoes—are being utilised as putative biomarkers of disease. On the other hand, EVs, as targeted intercellular shuttles of multipotent bioactive payloads, have demonstrated promising therapeutic properties, which can potentially be modulated and enhanced through cellular engineering. Furthermore, there is considerable interest in employing nanomedicinal approaches to mimic the putative therapeutic properties of EVs by employing synthetic analogues for targeted drug delivery. Herein we describe what is known about the origin and nature of EVs and subsequently review their putative roles in biology and medicine (including the use of synthetic EV analogues), with a particular focus on their role in aging and age-related brain diseases.