Roles of exosomes in the normal and diseased eye

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Exosomes are nanometer-sized vesicles that are released by cells in a controlled fashion and mediate a plethora of extra- and intercellular activities. Some key functions of exosomes include cell-cell communication, immune modulation, extracellular matrix turnover, stem cell division/differentiation, neovascularization and cellular waste removal. While much is known about their role in cancer, exosome function in the many specialized tissues of the eye is just beginning to undergo rigorous study. Here we review current knowledge of exosome function in the visual system in the context of larger bodies of data from other fields, in both health and disease. Additionally, we discuss recent advances in the exosome field including use of exosomes as a therapeutic vehicle, exosomes as a source of biomarkers for disease, plus current standards for isolation and validation of exosome populations. Finally, we use this foundational information about exosomes in the eye as a platform to identify areas of opportunity for future research studies.

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