The important roles of extracellular vesicles in the pathogenesis of various diseases are rapidly being elucidated. As important vehicles of intercellular communication, extracellular vesicles, which comprise microvesicles and exosomes, are revealing important roles in cancer tumorigenesis and metastases and in the spread of infectious disease. The September 2012 Focused Meeting ‘Microvesiculation and Disease’ brought together researchers working on extracellular vesicles. The papers in this issue of Biochemical Society Transactions review work in areas including HIV infection, kidney disease, hypoxia-mediated tumorigenesis and down-regulation of immune cell functions in acute myeloid leukaemia by tumour-derived exosomes. In all cases, microvesicles and exosomes have been demonstrated to be important factors leading to the pathophysiology of disease or indeed as therapeutic vehicles in possible new treatments. The aim was, having enhanced our molecular understanding of the contribution of microvesicles and exosomes to disease in vitro, to begin to apply this knowledge to in vivo models of disease.

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