Atherosclerosis is a major cardiovascular disease and in 2016, the World Health Organisation (WHO) estimated 17.5 million global deaths, corresponding to 31% of all global deaths, were driven by inflammation and deposition of lipids into the arterial wall. This leads to the development of plaques which narrow the vessel lumen, particularly in the coronary and carotid arteries. Atherosclerotic plaques can become unstable and rupture, leading to myocardial infarction or stroke. Extracellular vesicles (EVs) are a heterogeneous population of vesicles secreted from cells with a wide range of biological functions. EVs participate in cell-cell communication and signalling via transport of cargo including enzymes, DNA, RNA and microRNA in both physiological and patholophysiological settings. EVs are present in atherosclerotic plaques and have been implicated in cellular signalling processes in atherosclerosis development, including immune responses, inflammation, cell proliferation and migration, cell death and vascular remodeling during progression of the disease. In this review, we summarise the current knowledge regarding EV signalling in atherosclerosis progression and the potential of utilising EV signatures as biomarkers of disease.
Copyright © 2020. Published by Elsevier Inc.