Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is a heterogeneous autoimmune disease that affects multiple organs. Currently, therapeutic molecules present adverse side effects and are only effective in some SLE patient subgroups. Extracellular vesicles (EV), including exosomes, microvesicles and apoptotic bodies, are released by most cell types, carry nucleic acids, proteins and lipids and play a crucial role in cell-to-cell communication. EVs can stimulate or suppress the immune responses depending on the context. In SLE, EVs can work as autoadjuvants, enhance immune complex formation and maintaining inflammation state. Over the last years, EVs derived from mesenchymal stem cells and antigen presenting cells have emerged as cell-free therapeutic agents to treat autoimmune and inflammatory diseases. In this review, we summarize the current therapeutic applications of extracellular vesicles to regulate immune responses and to ameliorate disease activity in SLE and other autoimmune disorders.
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