The role of extracellular vesicles in skeletal muscle and systematic adaptation to exercise

Ivan J. Vechetti, Taylor Valentino, C. Brooks Mobley, John J. McCarthy

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

69 Scopus citations


Regular exercise has a central role in human health by reducing the risk of type 2 diabetes, obesity, stroke and cancer. How exercise is able to promote such systemic benefits has remained somewhat of a mystery but has been thought to be in part mediated by the release of myokines, skeletal muscle-specific cytokines, in response to exercise. Recent studies have revealed skeletal muscle can also release extracellular vesicles (EVs) into circulation following a bout of exercise. EVs are small membrane-bound vesicles capable of delivering biomolecules to recipient cells and subsequently altering their metabolism. The notion that EVs may have a role in both skeletal muscle and systemic adaptation to exercise has generated a great deal of excitement within a number of different fields including exercise physiology, neuroscience and metabolism. The purpose of this review is to provide an introduction to EV biology and what is currently known about skeletal muscle EVs and their potential role in the response of muscle and other tissues to exercise. (Figure presented.).

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)845-861
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Physiology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Feb 1 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 The Authors. The Journal of Physiology © 2020 The Physiological Society


  • exercise
  • extracellular vesicles
  • microRNAs
  • skeletal muscle

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology


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