MAR 04, 2015 8:00 AM PST

Diversity of extracellular vesicles and their cargo in cell-to-cell communication

  • Professor, Department of Internal Medicine, University of Gothenburg
      Jan Lötvall is a Professor at the Department of Internal Medicine at University of Gothenburg since 2002, and led research in 2007 that showed exosomes can transfer functional RNA molecules between cells (Nature Cell Biology, >2300 citations). Having years of experience in translational lung research, Dr Lötvall's current research also includes the biological function of exosomes and other extracellular vesicles, and their natural ability of transferring RNA between cells. Dr. Lötvall was instrumental in starting the International Society for Extracellular Vesicles (, he is the current President of the organization (2012-2016), which currently attracts >700 delegates to the annual meeting, which has a more than 20% annual growth. He was also the initiating editor for the Journal of Extracellular Vesicles in 2012, the only PubMed tracked journal in the field with an unofficial Impact Factor of 10.4. Dr Lötvall has been a fellow at the Department of Thoracic Medicine, Imperial College, London (1988-1990) and the Department of Respiratory Medicine, McMaster University, Canada (1997-98), and has approximately 250 scientific papers published or in press. He is co-Editor-in-Chief of the open access scientific journal "Respiratory Research", and is the Past President of European Academy of Allergy and Clinical Immunology (EAACI).

    Every cell in the body can release several types of extracellular vesicles (EVs), often called ”exosomes” or ”microvesicles”. These vesicles carry a wide array of molecules, including functional proteins and enzymes, as well as different RNA species (mRNA, microRNA and other species), all protected by a membrane lipid bilayer. EVs have the capacity to deliver molecular cargo to recipient cells by multiple pathways, including fusion at the level of the cell membrane, or by being internalized by cells. Current research is suggesting a wide diversity of extracellular vesicles , with diverse morphology according to electron microscopy studies, and difference in RNA and protein cargo according to bioinformatics analyses.

    EVs have been implicated in several ways in disease. For example, in cancer, it has been shown that the number of EVs increase in the circulation. EVs can propagate disease in several ways, for example in cancer by enhancing angiogenesis and propagating metastasis, as well inducing immune tolerance. Furthermore, several studies today have suggested that the cargo of EVs released in disease states such as cancer, including proteins and RNA, will fundamentally change, which can explain changes in function.

    This lecture will lay the background to EVs and will discuss extensively the diversity of EVs released by single cell types in culture, and diversity of EVs in body fluids, discussing their relevance for cell-to-cell communication.

    Learning Objectives:
    • Learn about the study of extracellular vesicles and their relevance for cell-to-cell communication
    • Learn about how extracellular vesicles have been implicated in several ways in disease
    • Understand the wide diversity of extracellular vesicles, with diverse morphology according to electron microscopy studies, and difference in RNA and protein cargo according to bioinformatics analyses

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