Cookies on this website

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Accept all cookies' we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you won't see this message again. If you click 'Reject all non-essential cookies' only necessary cookies providing core functionality such as security, network management, and accessibility will be enabled. Click 'Find out more' for information on how to change your cookie settings.

Previously thought to be nothing more than cellular debris, extracellular vesicles (EVs) are now known to mediate physiological and pathological functions throughout the body. We now understand more about their capacity to transfer nucleic acids and proteins between distant organs, the interaction of their surface proteins with target cells, and the role of vesicle-bound lipids in health and disease. To date, most observations have been made in reductionist cell culture systems, or as snapshots from patient cohorts. The heterogenous population of vesicles produced in vivo likely act in concert to mediate both beneficial and detrimental effects. EVs play crucial roles in both the pathogenesis of diseases, from cancer to neurodegenerative disease, as well as in the maintenance of system and organ homeostasis. This two-part review draws on the expertise of researchers working in the field of EV biology and aims to cover the functional role of EVs in physiology and pathology. Part I will outline the role of EVs in normal physiology.

Original publication




Journal article


Journal of extracellular vesicles

Publication Date





Department of Pharmacology, University of Oxford, Oxford, UK.