Astrocyte-derived extracellular vesicles: A double-edged sword in central nervous system disorders

Shu Zhao, Shiyang Sheng, Yi Wang, Lu Ding, Xiaonan Xu, Xiaohuan Xia, Jialin C. Zheng

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

46 Scopus citations


Recent studies suggest that astrocytes released a great quantity of extracellular vesicles (AEVs) to communicate with other brain cells. Under pathological conditions, AEVs are widely associated with the pathogenesis of neurobiological diseases by horizontally transferring pathogenic factors to neighboring cells or peripheral immune cells. Their beneficial role is also evident by the fact that they are involved in neuroprotection and neuroregeneration through alleviating apoptosis, maintaining neuronal function, and repairing neural injuries. The strong association of AEVswith neurological disorders makes AEVs a promising target for disease diagnosis, treatment, and prevention. The identification of disease-specific cargos in AEVs isolated from the patients’ biofluids suggests AEVs as an attractive platform for biomarker development. Furthermore, the inhibition of inflammatory/toxic AEV release and the preservation of neuroprotective AEV release have been considered as potential therapeutic strategies in CNS disorder treatment and prevention, respectively. Here, we summarize the biological roles of AEVs as pathological contributors, protective/regenerative factors, and potential diagnostic biomarkers and therapeutic targets for neurological disorders, with a focus on recent progresses and emerging concepts.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)148-159
Number of pages12
JournalNeuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews
StatePublished - Jun 2021


  • Astrocyte
  • Biomarker
  • Central Nervous System
  • Extracellular vesicles
  • Neurodegeneration
  • Neuroinflammation
  • Neurological disorders

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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