Exosomes: Nomenclature, Isolation, and Biological Roles in Liver Diseases

Seol Hee Park, Eun Kyeong Lee, Joowon Yim, Min Hoo Lee, Eojin Lee, Young Sun Lee, Wonhyo Seo

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


The biogenesis and biological roles of extracellular vesicles (EVs) in the progression of liver diseases have attracted considerable attention in recent years. EVs are membrane-bound nanosized vesicles found in different types of body fluids and contain various bioactive materials, including proteins, lipids, nucleic acids, and mitochondrial DNA. Based on their origin and biogenesis, EVs can be classified as apoptotic bodies, microvesicles, and exosomes. Among these, exosomes are the smallest EVs (30-150 nm in diameter), which play a significant role in cell-to-cell communication and epigenetic regulation. Moreover, exosomal content analysis can reveal the functional state of the parental cell. Therefore, exosomes can be applied to various purposes, including disease diagnosis and treatment, drug delivery, cell-free vaccines, and regenerative medicine. However, exosome-related research faces two major limitations: isolation of exosomes with high yield and purity and distinction of exosomes from other EVs (especially microvesicles). No standardized exosome isolation method has been established to date; however, various exosome isolation strategies have been proposed to investigate their biological roles. Exosome-mediated intercellular communications are known to be involved in alcoholic liver disease and nonalcoholic fatty liver disease development. Damaged hepatocytes or nonparenchymal cells release large numbers of exosomes that promote the progression of inflammation and fibrogenesis through interactions with neighboring cells. Exosomes are expected to provide insight on the progression of liver disease. Here, we review the biogenesis of exosomes, exosome isolation techniques, and biological roles of exosomes in alcoholic liver disease and nonalcoholic fatty liver disease.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)253-263
Number of pages11
JournalBiomolecules and Therapeutics
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 The Korean Society of Applied Pharmacology.


  • Biogenesis
  • Chronic liver disease
  • Exosome
  • Extracellular vesicles
  • Isolation techniques


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