Obstacles and opportunities in the functional analysis of extracellular vesicle RNA - An ISEV position paper

Bogdan Mateescu, Emma J.K. Kowal, Bas W.M. van Balkom, Sabine Bartel, Suvendra N. Bhattacharyya, Edit I. Buzás, Amy H. Buck, Paola de Candia, Franklin W.N. Chow, Saumya Das, Tom A.P. Driedonks, Lola Fernández-Messina, Franziska Haderk, Andrew F. Hill, Jennifer C. Jones, Kendall R. Van Keuren-Jensen, Charles P. Lai, Cecilia Lässer, Italia di Liegro, Taral R. LunavatMagdalena J. Lorenowicz, Sybren L.N. Maas, Imre Mäger, Maria Mittelbrunn, Stefan Momma, Kamalika Mukherjee, Muhammed Nawaz, D. Michiel Pegtel, Michael W. Pfaffl, Raymond M. Schiffelers, Hidetoshi Tahara, Clotilde Théry, Juan Pablo Tosar, Marca H.M. Wauben, Kenneth W. Witwer, Esther N.M. Nolte-'t Hoen

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

537 Citations (Scopus)


The release of RNA-containing extracellular vesicles (EV) into the extracellular milieu has been demonstrated in a multitude of different in vitro cell systems and in a variety of body fluids. RNA-containing EV are in the limelight for their capacity to communicate genetically encoded messages to other cells, their suitability as candidate biomarkers for diseases, and their use as therapeutic agents. Although EV-RNA has attracted enormous interest from basic researchers, clinicians, and industry, we currently have limited knowledge on which mechanisms drive and regulate RNA incorporation into EV and on how RNAencoded messages affect signalling processes in EV-targeted cells. Moreover, EV-RNA research faces various technical challenges, such as standardisation of EV isolationmethods, optimisation of methodologies to isolate and characteriseminute quantities of RNA found in EV, and development of approaches to demonstrate functional transfer of EV-RNA in vivo. These topics were discussed at the 2015 EV-RNA workshop of the International Society for Extracellular Vesicles. This position paper was written by the participants of the workshop not only to give an overview of the current state of knowledge in the field, but also to clarify that our incomplete knowledge - of the nature of EV(-RNA)s and of how to effectively and reliably study them - currently prohibits the implementation of gold standards in EV-RNA research. In addition, this paper creates awareness of possibilities and limitations of currently used strategies to investigate EV-RNA and calls for caution in interpretation of the obtained data.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1286095
JournalJournal of Extracellular Vesicles
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 7 Mar 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • Exosomes
  • Extracellular vesicles
  • Function
  • MRNA
  • Non-coding RNA
  • Quantification
  • RNA binding proteins
  • Sorting

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Histology
  • Cell Biology


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