Regulation of immune responses by extracellular vesicles

Paul D. Robbins, Adrian E. Morelli

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

1664 Scopus citations


Extracellular vesicles, including exosomes, are small membrane vesicles derived from multivesicular bodies or from the plasma membrane. Most, if not all, cell types release extracellular vesicles, which then enter the bodily fluids. These vesicles contain a subset of proteins, lipids and nucleic acids that are derived from the parent cell. It is thought that extracellular vesicles have important roles in intercellular communication, both locally and systemically, as they transfer their contents, including proteins, lipids and RNAs, between cells. Extracellular vesicles are involved in numerous physiological processes, and vesicles from both non-immune and immune cells have important roles in immune regulation. Moreover, extracellular vesicle-based therapeutics are being developed and clinically tested for the treatment of inflammatory diseases, autoimmune disorders and cancer. Given the tremendous therapeutic potential of extracellular vesicles, this Review focuses on their role in modulating immune responses, as well as their potential therapeutic applications.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)195-208
Number of pages14
JournalNature Reviews Immunology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2014
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported in part by US National Institutes of Health grants AG024827, AG033907, AR051456, AR055373 and AG043376 to P.D.R. and HL075512 and HL077545 to A.E.M.


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