Native and bioengineered extracellular vesicles for cardiovascular therapeutics

Ricardo Cerqueira de Abreu, Hugo Fernandes, Paula A. da Costa Martins, Susmita Sahoo, Costanza Emanueli, Lino Ferreira

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

224 Scopus citations


Extracellular vesicles (EVs) are a heterogeneous group of natural particles that are relevant to the treatment of cardiovascular diseases. These endogenous vesicles have certain properties that allow them to survive in the extracellular space, bypass biological barriers and deliver their biologically active molecular cargo to recipient cells. Moreover, EVs can be bioengineered to increase their stability, bioactivity, presentation to acceptor cells and capacity for on-target binding at both cell-type-specific and tissue-specific levels. Bioengineering of EVs involves the modification of the donor cell before EV isolation or direct modification of the EV properties after isolation. The therapeutic potential of native EVs and bioengineered EVs has been only minimally explored in the context of cardiovascular diseases. Efforts to harness the therapeutic potential of EVs will require innovative approaches and a comprehensive integration of knowledge gathered from decades of research into molecular-compound delivery. In this Review, we outline the endogenous properties of EVs that make them natural delivery agents as well as the features that can be improved by bioengineering. We also discuss the therapeutic applications of native and bioengineered EVs to cardiovascular diseases and examine the opportunities and challenges that need to be addressed to advance this research area, with an emphasis on clinical translation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)685-697
Number of pages13
JournalNature Reviews Cardiology
Issue number11
StatePublished - 1 Nov 2020


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