Extracellular vesicles: Their emerging roles in the pathogenesis of respiratory diseases

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8 Citations (Scopus)


Alveoli are the basic structure of the lungs, consisting of various types of parenchymal and bone marrow-derived cells including alveolar macrophages. These various types of cells have several important functions; thus, communication between these cells plays an important role in homeostasis as well as in the pathophysiology of diseases in the lungs. For a better understanding of the pathophysiology of lung diseases, researchers have isolated each type of lung cell to investigate the changes in their gene expressions, including their humoral factor or adhesion molecules, to reveal the intercellular communication among these cells. In particular, investigations during the past decade have focused on extracellular vesicles, which are lipid bilayer delimited vesicles released from a cell that can move among various cells and transfer substances, including microRNAs, mRNAs and proteins, thus, functioning as intercellular messengers. Extracellular vesicles can be classified into three general groups: apoptotic bodies, exosomes, and microparticles. Extracellular vesicles, especially exosomes and microparticles, are attracting increasing attention from pulmonologists as tools for understanding pathogenesis and disease diagnosis. Here, we review studies, including our own, on exosomes and microparticles and their roles in both lung homeostasis and the pathogenesis of lung diseases such as idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, chronic obstructive lung diseases, and acute respiratory distress syndrome. This review also addresses the roles of extracellular vesicles in COVID-19, the current global public health crisis.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)302-311
Number of pages10
JournalRespiratory Investigation
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2021 May
Externally publishedYes


  • COVID-19
  • Exosome
  • Extracellular vesicles
  • Microparticle

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine


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