Extracellular vesicles are membrane surrounded structures released by cells in an evolutionally conserved manner. Their diagnostic and therapeutic exploitation is under intense investigation.
Extracellular vesicles roughly fall into the size ranges of viruses, bacteria and platelets.
Extracellular vesicles are heterogenous and a consensus terminology for their different subtypes is yet to be developed. The major populations include exosomes, microvesicles and apoptotic bodies.
Schematic representation of extracellular vesicles. To simplify the Figure, cells are not shown to release all types of vesicles.