What are extracellular vesicles?

Extracellular vesicles (EVs) are small particles released by all cells, from unicellular organisms to plants and animals. The vesicles contain proteins, genetic material and lipids that provide a report card on the health status of the cells from which they derive.

EVs form a novel mechanism of inter-cellular communication and their cargos can alter the activity and makeup of neighbouring cells and distal target tissues, with profound impact on cellular function.

The study of EVs is at the frontier of basic biology, and applied to biomedical research. The small extracellular particles play important roles in many normal cellular processes and also in disease but how this occurs is not always understood.

EVs can be harvested from many bio-fluids, including:

  • blood
  • milk
  • saliva
  • urine
  • cerebrospinal fluid
  • media from cultured cells, bacteria and yeast

External resources


A compendium of exosomal proteins, RNA and lipids.


A compendium of proteins, RNA and lipids

TEDx Melbourne

Dr Lesley Cheng's talks about her ability to test for Alzheimers and other degenerative diseases.