Extracellular Vesicles Offer New Insights into Treating Endocrine Disorders

Endocrine Society issues Scientific Statement to explain the endocrine roles of extracellular vesicles.

In a new Scientific Statement released today, the Endocrine Society describes the importance of extracellular vesicles as a new research target for understanding the causes of certain endocrine disorders such as cancer and diabetes and discovering new treatments for these disorders.

During the last decade, endocrine researchers have shown great interest in extracellular vesicles and their hormone-like role in cell-to-cell communication. The statement provides insight into the functions of extracellular vesicles, which are secreted from all cells into biological fluids and carry endocrine signals that allow interactions between cells and distant sites in the body.

“We’re really excited about this new area of research that can help us better understand how people develop common endocrine conditions such as diabetes, obesity and cancer,” says Carlos Salomon PhD, DMedSc, MSc, BSc, associate professor at the University of Queensland in Brisbane, Australia. “The statement highlights the likely uses of extracellular vesicles in detecting and monitoring disease progression and their role as next-generation drug delivery vehicles.”

Extracellular vesicles can help researchers better understand how to diagnose endocrine-related conditions including cancer and predict its progression. The role of extracellular vesicles as a cancer biomarker may extend to predicting real-time response to therapy.

Extracellular vesicles are also involved in understanding the cause and treatment of diabetes, obesity and heart disease. Recent studies have shown the potential of extracellular vesicles, particularly ones derived from stem cells, in treating diabetes. Research into the vesicles provides insights into the causes of insulin resistance and glucose intolerance in obesity.

Extracellular vesicles play an important role in the development of heart disease and could be useful for predicting risk. They also serve as biomarkers for high blood pressure and could have a therapeutic and blood pressure-lowering role.

“We hope this statement brings awareness to the significance of extracellular vesicles in endocrinology and encourages more research on their potential as biomarkers and therapeutics,” Salomon said.

Other authors of this statement are: Saumya Das of Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School in Boston, Mass.; Uta Erdbrügger of the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, Va.; Raghu Kalluri of the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, Texas; Sai Kiang Lim of the Institute of Molecular and Cell Biology in Singapore; Jerrold M. Olefsky of the University of California-San Diego in La Jolla, Calif.; Gregory E. Rice of Inoviq Limited in Australia; Susmita Sahoo of the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York, N.Y.; W. Andy Tao of Purdue University in West Lafayette, Ind.; Pieter Vader of Utrecht University and UMC Utrecht in Utrecht, the Netherlands; Qun Wang of Shandong University in Jinan, China; and Alissa M. Weaver of Vanderbilt University School of Medicine and Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Tenn. Authors’ disclosures are listed in the manuscript.

The manuscript, “Extracellular Vesicles and Their Emerging Roles as Cellular Messengers in Endocrinology: An Endocrine Society Scientific Statement,” was published online in the Society’s journal Endocrine Reviews.

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