Int J Biol Sci 2022; 18(8):3266-3281. doi:10.7150/ijbs.71862 This issue

Review

Exosomes in atherosclerosis: Convergence on macrophages

Kaiying Yang1, Qi Xiao1, Mengying Niu1, Xudong Pan1✉, Xiaoyan Zhu2✉

1. Department of Neurology, The Affiliated Hospital of Qingdao University, Qingdao, China,
2. Department of Critical Care Medicine, The Affiliated Hospital of Qingdao Universality, Qingdao, China

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Citation:
Yang K, Xiao Q, Niu M, Pan X, Zhu X. Exosomes in atherosclerosis: Convergence on macrophages. Int J Biol Sci 2022; 18(8):3266-3281. doi:10.7150/ijbs.71862. Available from https://www.ijbs.com/v18p3266.htm

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Abstract

Graphic abstract

As the primary cells of atherosclerotic plaques, macrophages play a central role in the occurrence and progression of atherosclerosis (AS). In recent years, macrophages have received extensive attention as therapeutic targets. Exosomes, as natural nanoparticles, have high biocompatibility and strong targeting ability and have been widely studied as imaging agents and drug carriers. Studies on the relationship between atherosclerotic macrophages and exosomes have been focused on for the past few years. Nevertheless, no complex review has been undertaken in this area. In this review, we summarize in detail the role of macrophages in atherosclerosis, especially their plasticity and phenotypic and distributional heterogeneity. Based on the high correlation between macrophages and the pathological process of atherosclerosis, as well as the targeting of exosomes, we further review the clinical application of targeting macrophage-associated exosomes. We focus on the role of macrophage-associated exosomes in the phenotypic transformation of cells in atherosclerosis, providing a new idea for the clinical application of targeting macrophage-associated exosomes. Finally, we specifically summarize and prospect the diagnosis of macrophage-associated exosomes, such as imaging agent delivery, biomarkers and therapeutic strategies.

Keywords: Atherosclerosis, Macrophage, Exosomes, Biomaterials, Extracellular vesicles