Theranostics 2021; 11(8):3996-4010. doi:10.7150/thno.56035


Exosomes in atherosclerosis: performers, bystanders, biomarkers, and therapeutic targets

Chen Wang#, Zhelong Li#, Yunnan Liu, Lijun Yuan

Department of Ultrasound Diagnostics, Tangdu Hospital, Fourth Military Medical University, Xi'an 710038, People's Republic of China.
#These authors contributed equally to this work.

This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License ( See for full terms and conditions.
Wang C, Li Z, Liu Y, Yuan L. Exosomes in atherosclerosis: performers, bystanders, biomarkers, and therapeutic targets. Theranostics 2021; 11(8):3996-4010. doi:10.7150/thno.56035. Available from

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Exosomes are nanosized lipid vesicles originating from the endosomal system that carry many macromolecules from their parental cells and play important roles in intercellular communication. The functions and underlying mechanisms of exosomes in atherosclerosis have recently been intensively studied. In this review, we briefly introduce exosome biology and then focus on advances in the roles of exosomes in atherosclerosis, specifically exosomal changes associated with atherosclerosis, their cellular origins and potential functional cargos, and their detailed impacts on recipient cells. We also discuss the potential of exosomes as biomarkers and drug carriers for managing atherosclerosis.

Keywords: exosomes, atherosclerosis, intercellular communication, biomarker, therapy