The etiology of diabetes and associated metabolic derailments is a complex process that relies on crosstalk between metabolically active tissues. Dysregulation of secreted factors and metabolites from islets, adipose tissue, liver, and skeletal muscle contributes to the overall progression of diabetes and metabolic syndrome. Extracellular vesicles (EVs) are circulating nanovesicles secreted by most cell types and are comprised of bioactive cargoes that are horizontally transferred to targeted cells/tissues. Accumulating evidence from the past decade implicates the role of EVs as mediators of islet cell dysfunction, inflammation, insulin resistance, and other metabolic consequences associated with diabetes. This review covers a broad spectrum of basic EV biology (i.e., biogenesis, secretion, and uptake), including a comprehensive investigation of the emerging role of EVs in b-cell autocrine/paracrine interactions and the multidirectional crosstalk in metabolically active tissues. Understanding the utility of this novel means of intercellular communication could impart insight into the development of new treatment regimens and biomarker detection to treat diabetes.
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