Extracellular Vesicles in Human Reproduction in Health and Disease Academic Article uri icon


  • Extensive evidence suggests that the release of membrane-enclosed compartments, more commonly known as extracellular vesicles (EVs), is a potent newly identified mechanism of cell-to-cell communication both in normal physiology and in pathological conditions. This review presents evidence about the formation and release of different EVs, their definitive markers and cargo content in reproductive physiological processes, and their capacity to convey information between cells through the transfer of functional protein and genetic information to alter phenotype and function of recipient cells associated with reproductive biology. In the male reproductive tract, epididymosomes and prostasomes participate in regulating sperm motility activation, capacitation, and acrosome reaction. In the female reproductive tract, follicular fluid, oviduct/tube, and uterine cavity EVs are considered as vehicles to carry information during oocyte maturation, fertilization, and embryo-maternal crosstalk. EVs via their cargo might be also involved in the triggering, maintenance, and progression of reproductive- and obstetric-related pathologies such as endometriosis, polycystic ovarian syndrome, preeclampsia, gestational diabetes, and erectile dysfunction. In this review, we provide current knowledge on the present and future use of EVs not only as biomarkers, but also as therapeutic targeting agents, mainly as vectors for drug or compound delivery into target cells and tissues.


publication date

  • 2018