Seminar: Extracellular Vesicles as Mediators of Environmental Stress in Human Disease

Vrinda Kalia, Andrea A. Baccarelli, Christine Happel, Jonathan A. Hollander, Anne Marie Jukic, Kimberly A. McAllister, Ramkumar Menon, Bruce A. Merrick, Aleksander Milosavljevic, Lingamanaidu V. Ravichandran, Matthew E. Roth, Anita Subramanian, Frederick L. Tyson, Leroy Worth, Daniel T. Shaughnessy

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


BACKGROUND: Extracellular vesicles (EVs), membrane-bound particles containing a variety of RNA types, DNA, proteins, and other macromolecules, are now appreciated as an important means of communication between cells and tissues, both in normal cellular physiology and as a potential indica-tor of cellular stress, environmental exposures, and early disease pathogenesis. Extracellular signaling through EVs is a growing field of research for understanding fundamental mechanisms of health and disease and for the potential for biomarker discovery and therapy development. EVs are also known to play important roles in mediating the effects of exposure to environmental stress. OBJECTIVES: This seminar addresses the application of new tools and approaches for EV research, developed in part through the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Extracellular RNA Communication Program, and reflects presentations and discussions from a workshop held 27–28 September 2021 by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) and the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (NCATS) on “Extracellular Vesicles, Exosomes, and Cell-Cell Signaling in Response to Environmental Stress.” The panel of experts discussed current research on EVs and environmental exposures, highlighted recent advances in EV isolation and characterization, and considered research gaps and opportunities toward identifying and characterizing the roles for EVs in environmentally related diseases, as well as the current challenges and opportunities in this field. DISCUSSION: The authors discuss the application of new experimental models, particularly organ-on-chip (OOC) systems and in vitro approaches and how these have the potential to extend findings in population-based studies of EVs in exposure-related diseases. Given the complex challenges of identifying cell-specific EVs related to environmental exposures, as well as the general heterogeneity and variability in EVs in blood and other acces-sible biological samples, there is a critical need for rigorous reporting of experimental methods and validation studies. The authors note that these efforts, combined with cross-disciplinary approaches, would ensure that future research efforts in environmental health studies on EV biomarkers are rigorous and reproducible.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number104201
JournalEnvironmental health perspectives
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 2023
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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