Exosomes: biology, therapeutic potential, and emerging role in musculoskeletal repair and regeneration

Neil J. Cobelli, Daniel J. Leong, Hui B. Sun

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

36 Scopus citations


Exosomes are nanovesicles secreted from cells that play key roles in intercellular communication. They carry unique content derived from parental cells and are capable of transferring this cargo between cells. The role and function of exosomes largely depends on the origin and functional status of the parental cells. Emerging evidence indicates that exosomes are associated with biological processes and pathogenesis of certain diseases. These nanovesicles offer great potential as biomarkers, enabling the monitoring and diagnosis of various diseases in a noninvasive manner. Furthermore, as an efficient vehicle of biomolecular intercellular transfer, exosomes are under intensive investigation for their potential for drug delivery and carriers for gene therapy. Here, we first summarize the basic biology and function of exosomes, followed by a discussion of their clinical potential, including the use of exosomes for disease diagnosis, treatment, and drug delivery. The review will highlight the potential of exosomes derived from stem cells in regenerative medicine, with a focus on musculoskeletal tissues. We conclude by sharing our views on the challenges, opportunities, and future directions for the use of exosomes as a therapeutic treatment for the repair and regeneration of musculoskeletal tissues.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)57-67
Number of pages11
JournalAnnals of the New York Academy of Sciences
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2017


  • biologics
  • exosomes
  • musculoskeletal repair
  • regeneration
  • stem cell

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • History and Philosophy of Science


Dive into the research topics of 'Exosomes: biology, therapeutic potential, and emerging role in musculoskeletal repair and regeneration'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this