Extracellular vesicles in pharmacology: Novel approaches in diagnostics and therapy

Zainuddin Quadri, Ahmed Elsherbini, Erhard Bieberich

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Exosomes are nano-sized lipid vesicles that are produced by all eukaryotic cells, and they typically range in size from 30 to 150 nm. Exosomes were discovered almost 40 years ago; however, the last two decades have attracted considerable attention due to exosomes’ inherent abilities to shuttle nucleic acids, lipids and proteins between cells, along with their natural affinity to exosome target cells. From a pharmaceutical perspective, exosomes are regarded as naturally produced nanoparticle drug delivery vehicles. The application of exosomes as a means of drug delivery offers critical advantages compared to other nanoparticulate drug delivery systems, such as liposomes and polymeric nanoparticles. These advantages are due to the exosomes’ intrinsic features, such as low immunogenicity, biocompatibility, stability, and their ability to overcome biological barriers. Herein, we outline the structure and origin of exosomes, as well as their biological functions. We also touch upon recent advances in exosome labeling, imaging and drug loading. Finally, we discuss exosomes in targeted drug delivery and clinical trial development.

Original languageEnglish
Article number105980
JournalPharmacological Research
StatePublished - Jan 2022

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021


  • Cancer
  • Ceramide
  • Exosomes
  • Neurodegeneration

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology


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