Interest in cell-derived microvesicles (or microparticles) within cardiovascular diagnostics and therapeutics is rapidly growing. Microvesicles are often measured in the circulation at a single time point. However, it is becoming clear that microvesicle levels both increase and decrease rapidly in response to certain stimuli such as hypoxia, acute cardiac stress, shear stress, hypertriglyceridaemia and inflammation. Consequently, the levels of circulating microvesicles will reflect the balance between dynamic mechanisms for release and clearance. The present review describes the range of triggers currently known to lead to microvesicle release from different cellular origins into the circulation. Specifically, the published data are used to summarize the dynamic impact of these triggers on the degree and rate of microvesicle release. Secondly, a summary of the current understanding of microvesicle clearance via different cellular systems, including the endothelial cell and macrophage, is presented, based on reported studies of clearance in experimental models and clinical scenarios, such as transfusion or cardiac stress. Together, this information can be used to provide insights into potential underlying biological mechanisms that might explain the increases or decreases in circulating microvesicle levels that have been reported and help to design future clinical studies.

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