Extracellular Vesicles as Theranostic Tools in Kidney Disease

Weijun Huang, Xiang Yang Zhu, Amir Lerman, Lilach O. Lerman

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Extracellular vesicles are important vectors for cell-cell communication and show potential value for diagnosis and treatment of kidney diseases. The pathologic diagnosis of kidney diseases relies on kidney biopsy, whereas collection of extracellular vesicles from urine or circulating blood may constitute a less invasive diagnostic tool. In particular, urinary extracellular vesicles released mainly from resident kidney cells might provide an alternative tool for detection of kidney injury. Because extracellular vesicles mirror many features of their parent cells, cargoes of several populations of urinary extracellular vesicles are promising biomarkers for disease processes, like diabetic kidney disease, kidney transplant, and lupus nephritis. Contrarily, extracellular vesicles derived from reparative cells, such as mesenchymal stem cells, tubular epithelial progenitor cells, and human umbilical cord blood represent promising regenerative tools for treatment of kidney diseases. Furthermore, induced pluripotent stem cells–derived and engineered extracellular vesicles are being developed for specific applications for the kidney. Nevertheless, some assumptions regarding the specificity and immunogenicity of extracellular vesicles remain to be established. This review focuses on the utility of extracellular vesicles as therapeutic and diagnostic (theranostic) tools in kidney diseases and future directions for studies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1418-1429
Number of pages12
JournalClinical Journal of the American Society of Nephrology
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 2022

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Epidemiology
  • Critical Care and Intensive Care Medicine
  • Nephrology
  • Transplantation


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