Research in the past decades resulted in a new paradigm in cell-cell communication: extracellular extracellular vesicle mediated transfer of complex biological information between cells.
Secretion of extracellular vesicles (including exosomes, microvesicles/microparticles and apoptotic bodies) is an evolutionarily conserved, universal active process of cells.
Vesiculation is a significant adaptive cell response that regulates signaling by removal of receptors, signaling molecules and miRNAs. It represents a process that may rescues cell by removal of cellular components that may threat cellular viability (such as membrane attack complexes). Vesiculation (extracellular vesicle type secretion) enables efficient horizontal transfer of different types of biomolecules including nucleic acids (RNA and DNA) as well as bioactive protein complexes.
Extracellular vesicles are potent conveyors of danger signals. Furthermore, they have been shown to be inducers of pro-inflammatory responses, and they carry cytokines as well as tissue degrading enzymes. Recent evidences show that extracellular vesicles may induce cellular responses in synergy with cytokines.
Accumulating data suggest that extracellular vesicles may be strongly implicated in rheumatic diseases. Extracellular vesicles contain known autoantigens recognized in autoimmune diseases, they may contribute to presentation of autoepitopes in a cell-free manner and may substantially modulate immune functions.
In this rapidly expanding field, however, attention has to be paid to factors that may confound the detection of extracellular vesicles. It is recommended to follow the minimal experimental requirements suggested recently by the International Society for Extracellular Vesicles.
Importantly, extracellular vesicle research holds promise for the development of a new generation of diagnostic and therapeutic methods, and therefore this new paradigm in biology deserves increasing awareness in rheumatology
Disclosure of Interest None declared