Extracellular vesicles as nanotherapeutics for Parkinson’s disease

Loredana Leggio, Greta Paternò, Silvia Vivarelli, Francesca L’episcopo, Cataldo Tirolo, Gabriele Raciti, Fabrizio Pappalardo, Carmela Giachino, Salvatore Caniglia, Maria Francesca Serapide, Bianca Marchetti, Nunzio Iraci

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Extracellular vesicles (EVs) are naturally occurring membranous structures secreted by normal and diseased cells, and carrying a wide range of bioactive molecules. In the central nervous system (CNS), EVs are important in both homeostasis and pathology. Through receptor–ligand interactions, direct fusion, or endocytosis, EVs interact with their target cells. Accumulating evidence indicates that EVs play crucial roles in the pathogenesis of many neurodegenerative disorders (NDs), including Parkinson′s disease (PD). PD is the second most common ND, characterized by the progressive loss of dopaminergic (DAergic) neurons within the Substantia Nigra pars compacta (SNpc). In PD, EVs are secreted by both neurons and glial cells, with either beneficial or detrimental effects, via a complex program of cell-to-cell communication. The functions of EVs in PD range from their etiopathogenetic relevance to their use as diagnostic tools and innovative carriers of therapeutics. Because they can cross the blood–brain barrier, EVs can be engineered to deliver bioactive molecules (e.g., small interfering RNAs, catalase) within the CNS. This review summarizes the latest findings regarding the role played by EVs in PD etiology, diagnosis, prognosis, and therapy, with a particular focus on their use as novel PD nanotherapeutics.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1327
Pages (from-to)1-35
Number of pages35
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2020


  • Biomarkers
  • Cell-free therapy
  • Exosomes
  • Extracellular vesicles
  • Nanodrugs
  • Nanoparticle
  • Nanotherapeutics
  • Neurodegeneration
  • Parkinson’s disease

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology


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