Author(s): Mause SF, Weber C
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Abstract Microparticles represent a heterogeneous population of vesicles with a diameter of 100 to 1000 nm that are released by budding of the plasma membrane and express antigens specific of their parental cells. Although microparticle formation represents a physiological phenomenon, a multitude of pathologies are associated with a considerable increase in circulating microparticles, including inflammatory and autoimmune diseases, atherosclerosis, and malignancies. Microparticles display an broad spectrum of bioactive substances and receptors on their surface and harbor a concentrated set of cytokines, signaling proteins, mRNA, and microRNA. Recent studies provided evidence for the concept of microparticles as veritable vectors for the intercellular exchange of biological signals and information. Indeed, microparticles may transfer part of their components and content to selected target cells, thus mediating cell activation, phenotypic modification, and reprogramming of cell function. Because microparticles readily circulate in the vasculature, they may serve as shuttle modules and signaling transducers not only in their local environment but also at remarkable distance from their site of origin. Altogether, this transcellular delivery system may extend the confines of the limited transcriptome and proteome of recipient cells and establishes a communication network in which specific properties and information among cells can be efficiently shared. At least in same cases, the sequential steps of the transfer process underlie complex regulatory mechanisms, including selective sorting ("packaging") of microparticle components and content, specificity of interactions with target cells determined by surface receptors, and ultimately finely tuned and signal-dependent release and delivery of microparticle content.
This article was published in Circ Res
and referenced in Journal of Nephrology & Therapeutics