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Extracellular microvesicles and nanotubes in the brain: understanding their nature and function in cell-to-cell communication, their role in transcellular spread of pathological agents and their therapeutic potential

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Recent reports convey the intriguing idea that nanotubes and microvesicles represent novel pathways for cell-to-cell communication. Nanotubes are exceedingly thin protrusion up to several micrometer long that can connect cells from several cell diameters apart and provide membrane continuity between connected ...

Recent reports convey the intriguing idea that nanotubes and microvesicles represent novel pathways for cell-to-cell communication. Nanotubes are exceedingly thin protrusion up to several micrometer long that can connect cells from several cell diameters apart and provide membrane continuity between connected cells. Extracellular vesicles include exosomes, which are secreted as a result of multivesicular bodies fusion, and shed microvesicles/ectosomes, which bud directly from the cell plasma membrane. In this Research Topic we will discuss mechanisms involved in nanotubes and microvesicles formation, in microvesicles secretion and interaction with target cells. The role of nanotubes and microvesicles in the intercellular transfer among different brain cells will be also discussed as well as their involvement in brain development, cancer, inflammation, dissemination of pathogens or proteins associated to neurodegenerative disorders and their potential role as markers of brain tissue damage. The goal of this Research Topic is to give a summary of the current knowledge of microvesicles and nanotubes in the brain by describing their nature and revealing data about their biological roles and to stimulate theories and opinions on their possible implication in brain functions not yet identified. For example hypothesis on the potential use of microvesicles in diagnostic and for delivering therapeutic agents into the central nervous as compared to artificial nanoparticles, and a full discussion on the methodology currently available to isolate and quantify microvesicles derived from brain cells are encouraged.


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