Extracellular Vesicles Mediate the Intercellular Exchange of Nanoparticles

Xian Wu, Tang Tang, Yushuang Wei, Katherine A Cummins, David K. Wood, Hong Bo Pang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


To exert their therapeutic effects, nanoparticles (NPs) often need to travel into the tissues composed of multilayered cells. Accumulative evidence has revealed the crucial role of transcellular transport route (entry into one cell, exocytosis, and re-entry into another) in this process. While NP endocytosis and subcellular transport are intensively characterized, the exocytosis and re-entry steps are poorly understood, which becomes a barrier for NP delivery into complex tissues. Here, the authors term the exocytosis and re-entry steps together as intercellular exchange. A collagen-based three-dimension assay is developed to specifically quantify the intercellular exchange of NPs, and distinguish the contributions of several potential mechanisms. The authors show that NPs can be exocytosed freely or enclosed inside extracellular vesicles (EVs) for re-entry, while direct cell–cell contact is hardly involved. EVs account for a significant fraction of NP intercellular exchange, and its importance in NP transport is demonstrated in vitro and in vivo. While freely released NPs engage with the same receptors for re-entry, EV-enclosed ones bypass this dependence. These studies provide an easy and precise system to investigate the intercellular exchange stage of NP delivery, and shed the first light in the importance of EVs in NP transport between cells and into complex tissues.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number2102441
JournalAdvanced Science
Issue number7
StatePublished - Mar 4 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Research reported in this publication was supported by grants from the National Institute of Health (R01CA214550, R01GM133885, R21EB022652) and the State of Minnesota (MNP#19.08). The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 The Authors. Advanced Science published by Wiley-VCH GmbH.


  • 3D assay
  • extracellular vesicles
  • intercellular exchange
  • nanoparticle transport

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Journal Article
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't


Dive into the research topics of 'Extracellular Vesicles Mediate the Intercellular Exchange of Nanoparticles'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this