Cell-cell communication has proven to be even more complex than previously thought since the discovery that extracellular vesicles serve as containers of biological information on various pathophysiological settings. Extracellular vesicles are classified into exosomes, microvesicles/microparticles, or apoptotic bodies, originating from different subcellular compartments. The cellular machinery controlling their formation and composition, as well as the mechanisms regulating their extracellular release, remain unfortunately much unknown. Extracellular vesicles have been found in plasma, urine, saliva, and inflammatory tissues. Their biomarker potential has raised significant interest in the cardiovascular field because the vesicle composition and microRNA content are specific signatures of cellular activation and injury. More than simply cell dust, extracellular vesicles are capable of transferring biological information to neighboring cells and play an active role in inflammatory diseases, including atherosclerosis and angiogenesis. The molecular interactions regulating these effects involve specific receptor activation, proteolytic enzymes, reactive oxygen species, or delivery of genetic information to target cells. Unraveling their mechanisms of action will likely open new therapeutic avenues.
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