Extracellular vesicles as potential biomarkers for alcohol- and drug-induced liver injury and their therapeutic applications

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Abstract

Extracellular vesicles (EVs) are small membranous vesicles originating from various cells and tissues, including the liver parenchymal hepatocytes and nonparenchymal cells such as Kupffer and stellate cells. Recently, the pathophysiological role of EVs, such as exosomes and microvesicles, has been increasingly recognized based on their properties of intercellular communications. These EVs travel through the circulating blood and interact with specific cells and then deliver their cargos such as nucleic acids and proteins into recipient cells. In addition, based on their stabilities, circulating EVs from body fluids such as blood, cerebrospinal fluid, urine, saliva, semen, breast milk and amniotic fluids are being studied as a valuable source of potential biomarkers for providing information about the physiological status of original cells or tissues. In addition, EVs are considered potential therapeutic agents due to their ability for intercellular communications between different cell types within the liver and between various organs through transfer of their cargos. In this review, we have briefly described recent advances in the characteristics and pathophysiological roles of EVs in alcoholic liver disease (ALD) or drug-induced liver injury (DILI) and discuss their advantages in the discovery of potential biomarkers and therapeutic agents.

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