Exosomes are extracellular vesicles produced by eukaryotic cells that are also found in most biological
fluids and tissues. While they were initially thought to act as compartments for removal of cellular debris, they
are now recognized as important tools for cell-to-cell communication and for the transfer of pathogens between
the cells. They have attracted particular interest in neurodegenerative diseases for their potential role in transferring
prion-like proteins between neurons, and in Parkinson’s disease (PD), they have been shown to spread oligomers
of α-synuclein in the brain accelerating the progression of this pathology. A potential neuroprotective role
of exosomes has also been equally proposed in PD as they could limit the toxicity of α-synuclein by clearing them
out of the cells. Exosomes have also attracted considerable attention for use as drug vehicles. Being nonimmunogenic
in nature, they provide an unprecedented opportunity to enhance the delivery of incorporated drugs
to target cells. In this review, we discuss current knowledge about the potential neurotoxic and neuroprotective
role of exosomes and their potential application as drug delivery systems in PD.
Keywords: Exosomes, Parkinson’s disease, drug delivery, dopaminergic neurons, blood-brain barrier, biomarkers.
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