Exosomes, what are they?
Exosomes are messenger particles which are released naturally from a cell into the extracellular environment. Contents of these particles, derived from the original cell, include proteins, lipids, DNA and mRNA. They are defined by how they are formed, through fusion of the vesicle with the cell membrane and subsequent release to the exterior.
How Do Exosomes Work?
When stem cells communicate effectively, they perform well and rush to the site of injury to repair damaged tissues. As we age, these cells become less effective; injury healing takes longer, and degenerative diseases can progress more rapidly.
Exosomes can travel all over the body. While some break down rapidly, most are sustained for longer periods of time. They are found in every bodily fluid and they cross the most tightly regulated boundaries, including the blood brain barrier. While their lifetime of circulation in the body could be a matter of hours, the role they play and their influence on our well being can be long lived.
Exosomes may play a role in cellular waste disposal in some cases, but they also have much more significant functions. They communicate between immune cells, activating T cells to recognise and attack pathogens. Exosomes ferry proteins and RNA between cells, a process which produces a measurable change in the receiving cell’s behavior. The RNA cargo can directly reprogram the recipient cell's behavior. They are but one mechanism in which the immune cells coordinate their response to an infection. They help coordinate the whole body’s response to tissue damage, disease, and the benefits of exercise.
There has been quite a bit of activity around the therapeutic potential of stem cells; regenerative cells thought to be able to replace damaged or diseased cells. Exosome infusions have been proven to slow down aging in animals, as well as extending both the lifespan and healthspan.
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