Biogenesis, physiological functions and potential applications of extracellular vesicles in substance use disorders

Ernest T. Chivero, Raghubendra Singh Dagur, Eric S. Peeples, Susmita Sil, Ke Liao, Rong Ma, Liang Chen, Channabasavaiah B. Gurumurthy, Shilpa Buch, Guoku Hu

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


Substance use disorder (SUD) is a growing health problem that affects several millions of people worldwide, resulting in negative socioeconomic impacts and increased health care costs. Emerging evidence suggests that extracellular vesicles (EVs) play a crucial role in SUD pathogenesis. EVs, including exosomes and microvesicles, are membrane-encapsulated particles that are released into the extracellular space by most types of cells. EVs are important players in mediating cell-to-cell communication through transfer of cargo such as proteins, lipids and nucleic acids. The EV cargo can alter the status of recipient cells, thereby contributing to both physiological and pathological processes; some of these play critical roles in SUD. Although the functions of EVs under several pathological conditions have been extensively reviewed, EV functions and potential applications in SUD remain less studied. In this review, we provide an overview of the current knowledge of the role of EVs in SUD, including alcohol, cocaine, heroin, marijuana, nicotine and opiate abuse. The review will focus on the biogenesis and cargo composition of EVs as well as the potential use of EVs as biomarkers of SUD or therapeutic targets in SUD.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)4849-4865
Number of pages17
JournalCellular and Molecular Life Sciences
Issue number11
StatePublished - Jun 2021


  • Alcohol
  • Cocaine
  • Exosomes
  • Heroin
  • Marijuana
  • Microvesicles
  • Nicotine
  • Opiates

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Medicine
  • Molecular Biology
  • Pharmacology
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience
  • Cell Biology


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