Intercellular communication between neurons and their surrounding cells occurs through the secretion of soluble molecules or release of vesicles such as exosomes into the extracellular space, participating in brain homeostasis. Under neuro-degenerative conditions associated with ageing, such as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s disease, exosomes are suspected to propagate toxic proteins. The topic of this review is the role of exosomes in ageing conditions and more specifically in ALS. Our current understanding of exosomes and exosome-related mechanisms is first summarized in a general sense, including their biogenesis and secretion, heterogeneity, cellular interaction and intracellular fate. Their role in the Central Nervous System (CNS) and ageing of the neuromotor system is then considered in the context of exosome-induced signaling. The review then focuses on exosomes in age-associated neurodegenerative disease. The role of exosomes in ALS is highlighted, and their use as potential biomarkers to diagnose and prognose ALS is presented. The therapeutic implications of exosomes for ALS are considered, whether as delivery vehicles, neurotoxic targets or as corrective drugs in and of themselves. A diverse set of mechanisms underpin the functional roles, both confirmed and potential, of exosomes, generally in ageing and specifically in motor neurone disease. Aspects of their contents, biogenesis, uptake and modifications offer many plausible routes towards the development of novel biomarkers and therapeutics.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
Funding: L.L.G. was a recipient of the ArSLA PhD fellowship. Chancellor’s Research Scholarship.
© 2021 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland.
- Neuromuscular disease
- Neurodegenerative disease
- Extracellular vesicle