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Special Issue "Role and Dynamics of Extracellular Vesicles in Central Nervous System Diseases"

A special issue of International Journal of Molecular Sciences (ISSN 1422-0067). This special issue belongs to the section "Molecular Neurobiology".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (31 January 2021).

Special Issue Editors

Dr. Leonora Balaj
Website1 Website2
Guest Editor
Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston, USA
Interests: role of extracellular vesicles (EVs) and their potential as carriers of biomolecules relevant to disease detection; progression as well as potential therapeutics
Dr. Annalisa Tassone
Website
Guest Editor
Neurophysiology and Plasticity Unit, IRCCS-Fondazione Santa Lucia, 00143 Rome, Italy
Interests: cellular and molecular mechanisms underlying the cell communication in central nervous system (CNS), with a particular focus on synaptic transmission and synaptic plasticity in various physiologic and pathological conditions

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

A collection of manuscripts will encompass a range of topics with the common denominator of extracellular vesicles in the context of biomarkers, basic biology, and cell–cell communication as well as therapeutics. EVs are found in a wide range of biofluids, including cerebrospinal fluid, plasma, serum, and urine. They reflect the cargo of the parental cells and can inform about the tumor status in a noninvasive, real-time fashion. The bioactive molecules carried within EVs have also been shown to modulate the behavior of recipient cells in many ways. Specifically, EVs can shuttle between neurons and glia cells, likely influencing synaptic activity, morphological plasticity, and neurovasculature. In the presence of injury, EVs have been suggested to play a role in neuroprotection, while in neurodegeneration, EVs have been implicated in the spreading and clearance of toxic aggregates. Finally, several studies have proposed using EVs as a delivery tool for small molecule drugs, protein, and nucleic acid to the CNS. Characteristics of EVs such as biocompatibility, low immunogenicity, and low toxicity profiles, are make them highly valuable for therapeutic purposes.

Dr. Leonora Balaj
Dr. Annalisa Tassone
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. International Journal of Molecular Sciences is an international peer-reviewed open access semimonthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. There is an Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal. For details about the APC please see here. Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • extracellular vesicles
  • exosomes
  • microvesicles
  • CNS
  • synapsis
  • neurons
  • toxic aggregates
  • biomarker
  • liquid biopsy
  • therapeutics
  • synaptic transmission
  • synaptic plasticity
  • molecular pathway
  • neuronal circuitry

Published Papers (12 papers)

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Research

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Open AccessArticle
GBA Mutations Influence the Release and Pathological Effects of Small Extracellular Vesicles from Fibroblasts of Patients with Parkinson’s Disease
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2021, 22(4), 2215; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms22042215 - 23 Feb 2021
Viewed by 357
Abstract
Heterozygous mutations in the GBA gene, encoding the lysosomal enzyme glucocerebrosidase (GCase), are the strongest known genetic risk factor for Parkinson’s disease (PD). The molecular mechanisms underlying the increased PD risk and the variable phenotypes observed in carriers of different GBA mutations are [...] Read more.
Heterozygous mutations in the GBA gene, encoding the lysosomal enzyme glucocerebrosidase (GCase), are the strongest known genetic risk factor for Parkinson’s disease (PD). The molecular mechanisms underlying the increased PD risk and the variable phenotypes observed in carriers of different GBA mutations are not yet fully elucidated. Extracellular vesicles (EVs) have gained increasing importance in neurodegenerative diseases since they can vehiculate pathological molecules potentially promoting disease propagation. Accumulating evidence showed that perturbations of the endosomal–lysosomal pathway can affect EV release and composition. Here, we investigate the impact of GCase deficiency on EV release and their effect in recipient cells. EVs were purified by ultracentrifugation from the supernatant of fibroblast cell lines derived from PD patients with or without GBA mutations and quantified by nanoparticle tracking analysis. SH-SY5Y cells over-expressing alpha-synuclein (α-syn) were used to assess the ability of patient-derived small EVs to affect α-syn expression. We observed that defective GCase activity promotes the release of EVs, independently of mutation severity. Moreover, small EVs released from PD fibroblasts carrying severe mutations increased the intra-cellular levels of phosphorylated α-syn. In summary, our work shows that the dysregulation of small EV trafficking and alpha-synuclein mishandling may play a role in GBA-associated PD. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Molecular Characterization of Temozolomide-Treated and Non Temozolomide-Treated Glioblastoma Cells Released Extracellular Vesicles and Their Role in the Macrophage Response
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2020, 21(21), 8353; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms21218353 - 07 Nov 2020
Viewed by 384
Abstract
Extracellular vesicles (EVs) are widely investigated in glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) for their involvement in regulating GBM pathobiology as well as for their use as potential biomarkers. EVs, through cell-to-cell communication, can deliver proteins, nucleic acids, and lipids that are able to reprogram tumor-associated [...] Read more.
Extracellular vesicles (EVs) are widely investigated in glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) for their involvement in regulating GBM pathobiology as well as for their use as potential biomarkers. EVs, through cell-to-cell communication, can deliver proteins, nucleic acids, and lipids that are able to reprogram tumor-associated macrophages (TAMs). This research is aimed to concentrate, characterize, and identify molecular markers of EVs subtypes released by temozolomide (TMZ)-treated and non TMZ-treated four diverse GBM cells. Morphology, size distribution, and quantity of small (sEVs) and large (lEVs) vesicles were analyzed by cryo-TEM. Quality and quantity of EVs surface markers were evaluated, having been obtained by Western blotting. GBM cells shed a large amount of EVs, showing a cell line dependent molecular profile A comparative analysis distinguished sEVs and lEVs released by temozolomide (TMZ)-treated and non TMZ-treated GBM cells on the basis of quantity, size and markers expression. Finally, the GBM-derived sEVs and lEVs, irrespective of TMZ treatment, when challenged with macrophages, modulated cell activation toward a tendentially M2b-like phenotype. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Transport of Extracellular Vesicles across the Blood-Brain Barrier: Brain Pharmacokinetics and Effects of Inflammation
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2020, 21(12), 4407; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms21124407 - 21 Jun 2020
Cited by 6 | Viewed by 959
Abstract
Extracellular vesicles can cross the blood–brain barrier (BBB), but little is known about passage. Here, we used multiple-time regression analysis to examine the ability of 10 exosome populations derived from mouse, human, cancerous, and non-cancerous cell lines to cross the BBB. All crossed [...] Read more.
Extracellular vesicles can cross the blood–brain barrier (BBB), but little is known about passage. Here, we used multiple-time regression analysis to examine the ability of 10 exosome populations derived from mouse, human, cancerous, and non-cancerous cell lines to cross the BBB. All crossed the BBB, but rates varied over 10-fold. Lipopolysaccharide (LPS), an activator of the innate immune system, enhanced uptake independently of BBB disruption for six exosomes and decreased uptake for one. Wheatgerm agglutinin (WGA) modulated transport of five exosome populations, suggesting passage by adsorptive transcytosis. Mannose 6-phosphate inhibited uptake of J774A.1, demonstrating that its BBB transporter is the mannose 6-phosphate receptor. Uptake rates, patterns, and effects of LPS or WGA were not predicted by exosome source (mouse vs. human) or cancer status of the cell lines. The cell surface proteins CD46, AVβ6, AVβ3, and ICAM-1 were variably expressed but not predictive of transport rate nor responses to LPS or WGA. A brain-to-blood efflux mechanism variably affected CNS retention and explains how CNS-derived exosomes enter blood. In summary, all exosomes tested here readily crossed the BBB, but at varying rates and by a variety of vesicular-mediated mechanisms involving specific transporters, adsorptive transcytosis, and a brain-to-blood efflux system. Full article
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Review

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Open AccessReview
Brain-Derived Extracellular Vesicles in Health and Disease: A Methodological Perspective
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2021, 22(3), 1365; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms22031365 - 29 Jan 2021
Viewed by 454
Abstract
Extracellular vesicles (EVs) are double membrane structures released by presumably all cell types that transport and deliver lipids, proteins, and genetic material to near or distant recipient cells, thereby affecting their phenotype. The basic knowledge of their functions in healthy and diseased brain [...] Read more.
Extracellular vesicles (EVs) are double membrane structures released by presumably all cell types that transport and deliver lipids, proteins, and genetic material to near or distant recipient cells, thereby affecting their phenotype. The basic knowledge of their functions in healthy and diseased brain is still murky and many questions about their biology are unsolved. In neurological diseases, EVs are regarded as attractive biomarkers and as therapeutic tools due to their ability to cross the blood–brain barrier (BBB). EVs have been successfully isolated from conditioned media of primary brain cells and cerebrospinal fluid (CSF), but protocols allowing for the direct study of pathophysiological events mediated or influenced by EVs isolated from brain have only recently been published. This review aims to give a brief overview of the current knowledge of EVs’ functions in the central nervous system (CNS) and the current protocols to isolate brain-derived EVs (BDEVs) used in different publications. By comparing the proteomic analysis of some of these publications, we also assess the influence of the isolation method on the protein content of BDEVs. Full article
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Open AccessReview
Synergistic Effects of Milk-Derived Exosomes and Galactose on α-Synuclein Pathology in Parkinson’s Disease and Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2021, 22(3), 1059; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms22031059 - 21 Jan 2021
Viewed by 484
Abstract
Epidemiological studies associate milk consumption with an increased risk of Parkinson’s disease (PD) and type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2D). PD is an α-synucleinopathy associated with mitochondrial dysfunction, oxidative stress, deficient lysosomal clearance of α-synuclein (α-syn) and aggregation of misfolded [...] Read more.
Epidemiological studies associate milk consumption with an increased risk of Parkinson’s disease (PD) and type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2D). PD is an α-synucleinopathy associated with mitochondrial dysfunction, oxidative stress, deficient lysosomal clearance of α-synuclein (α-syn) and aggregation of misfolded α-syn. In T2D, α-syn promotes co-aggregation with islet amyloid polypeptide in pancreatic β-cells. Prion-like vagal nerve-mediated propagation of exosomal α-syn from the gut to the brain and pancreatic islets apparently link both pathologies. Exosomes are critical transmitters of α-syn from cell to cell especially under conditions of compromised autophagy. This review provides translational evidence that milk exosomes (MEX) disturb α-syn homeostasis. MEX are taken up by intestinal epithelial cells and accumulate in the brain after oral administration to mice. The potential uptake of MEX miRNA-148a and miRNA-21 by enteroendocrine cells in the gut, dopaminergic neurons in substantia nigra and pancreatic β-cells may enhance miRNA-148a/DNMT1-dependent overexpression of α-syn and impair miRNA-148a/PPARGC1A- and miRNA-21/LAMP2A-dependent autophagy driving both diseases. MiRNA-148a- and galactose-induced mitochondrial oxidative stress activate c-Abl-mediated aggregation of α-syn which is exported by exosome release. Via the vagal nerve and/or systemic exosomes, toxic α-syn may spread to dopaminergic neurons and pancreatic β-cells linking the pathogenesis of PD and T2D. Full article
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Open AccessReview
Extracellular Vesicles in CNS Developmental Disorders
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2020, 21(24), 9428; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms21249428 - 11 Dec 2020
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 725
Abstract
The central nervous system (CNS) is the most complex structure in the body, consisting of multiple cell types with distinct morphology and function. Development of the neuronal circuit and its function rely on a continuous crosstalk between neurons and non-neural cells. It has [...] Read more.
The central nervous system (CNS) is the most complex structure in the body, consisting of multiple cell types with distinct morphology and function. Development of the neuronal circuit and its function rely on a continuous crosstalk between neurons and non-neural cells. It has been widely accepted that extracellular vesicles (EVs), mainly exosomes, are effective entities responsible for intercellular CNS communication. They contain membrane and cytoplasmic proteins, lipids, non-coding RNAs, microRNAs and mRNAs. Their cargo modulates gene and protein expression in recipient cells. Several lines of evidence indicate that EVs play a role in modifying signal transduction with subsequent physiological changes in neurogenesis, gliogenesis, synaptogenesis and network circuit formation and activity, as well as synaptic pruning and myelination. Several studies demonstrate that neural and non-neural EVs play an important role in physiological and pathological neurodevelopment. The present review discusses the role of EVs in various neurodevelopmental disorders and the prospects of using EVs as disease biomarkers and therapeutics. Full article
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Open AccessReview
The Role of Extracellular Vesicles in Demyelination of the Central Nervous System
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2020, 21(23), 9111; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms21239111 - 30 Nov 2020
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 473
Abstract
It is being increasingly demonstrated that extracellular vesicles (EVs) are deeply involved in the physiology of the central nervous system (CNS). Processes such as synaptic activity, neuron-glia communication, myelination and immune response are modulated by EVs. Likewise, these vesicles may participate in many [...] Read more.
It is being increasingly demonstrated that extracellular vesicles (EVs) are deeply involved in the physiology of the central nervous system (CNS). Processes such as synaptic activity, neuron-glia communication, myelination and immune response are modulated by EVs. Likewise, these vesicles may participate in many pathological processes, both as triggers of disease or, on the contrary, as mechanisms of repair. EVs play relevant roles in neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s diseases, in viral infections of the CNS and in demyelinating pathologies such as multiple sclerosis (MS). This review describes the involvement of these membrane vesicles in major demyelinating diseases, including MS, neuromyelitis optica, progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy and demyelination associated to herpesviruses. Full article
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Open AccessReview
A Brief History of Adherons: The Discovery of Brain Exosomes
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2020, 21(20), 7673; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms21207673 - 16 Oct 2020
Viewed by 547
Abstract
Although exosomes were first described in reticulocytes in 1983, many people do not realize that similar vesicles had been studied in the context of muscle and nerve, beginning in 1980. At the time of their discovery, these vesicles were named adherons, and they [...] Read more.
Although exosomes were first described in reticulocytes in 1983, many people do not realize that similar vesicles had been studied in the context of muscle and nerve, beginning in 1980. At the time of their discovery, these vesicles were named adherons, and they were found to play an important role in both cell–substrate and cell–cell adhesion. My laboratory described several molecules that are present in adherons, including heparan sulfate proteoglycans (HSPGs) and purpurin. HSPGs have since been shown to play a variety of key roles in brain physiology. Purpurin has a number of important functions in the retina, including a role in nerve cell differentiation and regeneration. In this review, I discuss the discovery of adherons and how that led to continuing studies on their role in the brain with a particular focus on HSPGs. Full article
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Open AccessReview
Emerging Role of Extracellular Vesicles in the Pathophysiology of Multiple Sclerosis
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2020, 21(19), 7336; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms21197336 - 04 Oct 2020
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 851
Abstract
Extracellular vesicles (EVs) represent a new reality for many physiological and pathological functions as an alternative mode of intercellular communication. This is due to their capacity to interact with distant recipient cells, usually involving delivery of the EVs contents into the target cells. [...] Read more.
Extracellular vesicles (EVs) represent a new reality for many physiological and pathological functions as an alternative mode of intercellular communication. This is due to their capacity to interact with distant recipient cells, usually involving delivery of the EVs contents into the target cells. Intensive investigation has targeted the role of EVs in different pathological conditions, including multiple sclerosis (MS). MS is a chronic inflammatory and neurodegenerative disease of the nervous system, one of the main causes of neurological disability in young adults. The fine interplay between the immune and nervous systems is profoundly altered in this disease, and EVs seems to have a relevant impact on MS pathogenesis. Here, we provide an overview of both clinical and preclinical studies showing that EVs released from blood–brain barrier (BBB) endothelial cells, platelets, leukocytes, myeloid cells, astrocytes, and oligodendrocytes are involved in the pathogenesis of MS and of its rodent model experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE). Most of the information points to an impact of EVs on BBB damage, on spreading pro-inflammatory signals, and altering neuronal functions, but EVs reparative function of brain damage deserves attention. Finally, we will describe recent advances about EVs as potential therapeutic targets and tools for therapeutic intervention in MS. Full article
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Open AccessReview
Extracellular Vesicles as Innovative Tool for Diagnosis, Regeneration and Protection against Neurological Damage
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2020, 21(18), 6859; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms21186859 - 18 Sep 2020
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 1015
Abstract
Extracellular vesicles (EVs) have recently attracted a great deal of interest as they may represent a new biosignaling paradigm. According to the mode of biogenesis, size and composition, two broad categories of EVs have been described, exosomes and microvesicles. EVs have been shown [...] Read more.
Extracellular vesicles (EVs) have recently attracted a great deal of interest as they may represent a new biosignaling paradigm. According to the mode of biogenesis, size and composition, two broad categories of EVs have been described, exosomes and microvesicles. EVs have been shown to carry cargoes of signaling proteins, RNA species, DNA and lipids. Once released, their content is selectively taken up by near or distant target cells, influencing their behavior. Exosomes are involved in cell–cell communication in a wide range of embryonic developmental processes and in fetal–maternal communication. In the present review, an outline of the role of EVs in neural development, regeneration and diseases is presented. EVs can act as regulators of normal homeostasis, but they can also promote either neuroinflammation/degeneration or tissue repair in pathological conditions, depending on their content. Since EV molecular cargo constitutes a representation of the origin cell status, EVs can be exploited in the diagnosis of several diseases. Due to their capability to cross the blood–brain barrier (BBB), EVs not only have been suggested for the diagnosis of central nervous system disorders by means of minimally invasive procedures, i.e., “liquid biopsies”, but they are also considered attractive tools for targeted drug delivery across the BBB. From the therapeutic perspective, mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) represent one of the most promising sources of EVs. In particular, the neuroprotective properties of MSCs derived from the dental pulp are here discussed. Full article
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Open AccessReview
Role of Extracellular Vesicles in Substance Abuse and HIV-Related Neurological Pathologies
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2020, 21(18), 6765; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms21186765 - 15 Sep 2020
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 784
Abstract
Extracellular vesicles (EVs) are a broad, heterogeneous class of membranous lipid-bilayer vesicles that facilitate intercellular communication throughout the body. As important carriers of various types of cargo, including proteins, lipids, DNA fragments, and a variety of small noncoding RNAs, including miRNAs, mRNAs, and [...] Read more.
Extracellular vesicles (EVs) are a broad, heterogeneous class of membranous lipid-bilayer vesicles that facilitate intercellular communication throughout the body. As important carriers of various types of cargo, including proteins, lipids, DNA fragments, and a variety of small noncoding RNAs, including miRNAs, mRNAs, and siRNAs, EVs may play an important role in the development of addiction and other neurological pathologies, particularly those related to HIV. In this review, we summarize the findings of EV studies in the context of methamphetamine (METH), cocaine, nicotine, opioid, and alcohol use disorders, highlighting important EV cargoes that may contribute to addiction. Additionally, as HIV and substance abuse are often comorbid, we discuss the potential role of EVs in the intersection of substance abuse and HIV. Taken together, the studies presented in this comprehensive review shed light on the potential role of EVs in the exacerbation of substance use and HIV. As a subject of growing interest, EVs may continue to provide information about mechanisms and pathogenesis in substance use disorders and CNS pathologies, perhaps allowing for exploration into potential therapeutic options. Full article
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Open AccessReview
HIV Associated Risk Factors for Ischemic Stroke and Future Perspectives
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2020, 21(15), 5306; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms21155306 - 26 Jul 2020
Viewed by 737
Abstract
Although retroviral therapy (ART) has changed the HIV infection from a fatal event to a chronic disease, treated HIV patients demonstrate high prevalence of HIV associated comorbidities including cardio/cerebrovascular diseases. The incidence of stroke in HIV infected subjects is three times higher than [...] Read more.
Although retroviral therapy (ART) has changed the HIV infection from a fatal event to a chronic disease, treated HIV patients demonstrate high prevalence of HIV associated comorbidities including cardio/cerebrovascular diseases. The incidence of stroke in HIV infected subjects is three times higher than that of uninfected controls. Several clinical and postmortem studies have documented the higher incidence of ischemic stroke in HIV infected patients. The etiology of stroke in HIV infected patients remains unknown; however, several factors such as coagulopathies, opportunistic infections, vascular abnormalities, atherosclerosis and diabetes can contribute to the pathogenesis of stroke. In addition, chronic administration of ART contributes to the increased risk of stroke in HIV infected patients. Concurrently, experimental studies in murine model of ischemic stroke demonstrated that HIV infection worsens stroke outcome, increases blood brain barrier permeability and increases neuroinflammation. Additionally, residual HIV viral proteins, such as Trans-Activator of Transcription, glycoprotein 120 and Negative regulatory factor, contribute to the pathogenesis. This review presents comprehensive information detailing the risk factors contributing to ischemic stroke in HIV infected patients. It also outlines experimental evidence demonstrating the impact of HIV infection on stroke outcomes, in addition to possible novel therapeutic approaches to improve these outcomes. Full article
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