Extracellular vesicles in cartilage homeostasis and osteoarthritis

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Purpose of reviewExtracellular vesicles carry bioactive molecules that can be transferred between cells and tissues. The purpose of this review is to describe how extracellular vesicles regulate functions of cells in cartilage and other joint tissues. The potential application of extracellular vesicles in the treatment of osteoarthritis and as biomarkers will also be discussed.Recent findingsExtracellular vesicles are found in synovial fluid, in articular cartilage and in the supernatants of synoviocytes and chondrocytes. Extracellular vesicles in cartilage have been proposed to be involved in cross talk between cells in joint tissues and to affect extracellular matrix turnover and inflammation. Extracellular vesicles from arthritic joints can promote abnormal gene expression and changes in cartilage extracellular matrix, including abnormal mineralization. Promising results were obtained in the therapeutic application of mesenchymal stem cell-derived extracellular vesicles for cartilage repair and experimental osteoarthritis.SummaryExtracellular vesicles have emerged as vehicles for the exchange of bioactive signaling molecules within cartilage and between joint tissues to promote joint homeostasis and arthritis pathogenesis. As the molecular content of extracellular vesicles can be customized, they offer utility in therapeutic applications.

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