In keeping with the extraordinary interest and advancement of extracellular vesicles (EVs) in pathogenesis and diagnosis fields, we herein present an update to the knowledge about their role in cystic fibrosis (CF) and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Although CF and COPD stem from a different origin, one genetic and the other acquired, they share a similar pathophysiology, being the CF transmembrane conductance regulator (CFTR) protein implied in both disorders. Various subsets of EVs, comprised mainly of microvesicles (MVs) and exosomes (EXOs), are secreted by various cell types that are either resident or attracted in the airways during the onset and progression of CF and COPD lung disease, representing a vehicle for metabolites, proteins and RNAs (especially microRNAs), that in turn lead to events as such neutrophil influx, the overwhelming of proteases (elastase, metalloproteases), oxidative stress, myofibroblast activation and collagen deposition. Eventually, all of these pathomechanisms lead to chronic inflammation, mucus overproduction, remodeling of the airways, and fibrosis, thus operating a complex interplay among cells and tissues. The detection of MVs and EXOs in blood and biological fluids coming from the airways (bronchoalveolar lavage fluid and sputum) allows the consideration of EVs and their cargoes as promising biomarkers for CF and COPD, although clinical expectations have yet to be fulfilled.
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Sante Di Gioia