Extracellular vesicles and their associated cargos in health and disease

Mirco Castoldi 1,
1University of Düsseldorf, Germany 

One of the major challenges towards an improved treatment of human diseases is the identification of appropriate prognostic and diagnostic markers. During the past decade, microRNA (miRNA) activity has been associated with the control of a wide range of cel- lular processes. Importantly, it has been shown that dysfunctional expression of specific miRNAs is associated with the development of a variety of diseases in human. However, the inherent difficul- ties associated to the collection of diseased material from patients has severely limited the investigation of cellular miRNAs as source for disease-related biomarker. Remarkably, the discovery of popu- lations of cell-free miRNAs circulating in the blood of healthy as well as diseased individuals, have raised the possibility to iden- tify specific signature reflecting clinical manifestation of diseases. Although two different sub-populations of circulating miRNAs exist, we will specifically focus on the clinical utility, isolation, and detection of extracellular vesicles-associated miRNAs. Extra- cellular vesicles (EVs) are a heterogeneous group of nano-sized particles, which play a key role in inter-cellular communication and signaling. EVs are secreted by most, if not all, cell types composing the organism. Compelling evidences indicate that both the quan- titative and qualitative composition of EVs may correlate with the diseased state of the patient. However, application of experimental protocols to the clinical setting is a challenge, requiring the estab- lishment of easy to use, affordable and robust methodologies. Here, implementation of experimental pipelines required for the isola- tion and analysis of EVs and EVs-associated miRNAs from patients’ serum in the context of diagnostic laboratories will be presented and discussed.

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