Theranostics 2022; 12(9):4459-4476. doi:10.7150/thno.72676 This issue


Influences of age, race, and sex on extracellular vesicle characteristics

Nicole Noren Hooten, Anjali M. Byappanahalli, Mya Vannoy, Victor Omoniyi, Michele K. Evans

Laboratory of Epidemiology and Population Science, National Institute on Aging, National Institutes of Health, 251 Bayview Boulevard, Baltimore, MD 21224

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Noren Hooten N, Byappanahalli AM, Vannoy M, Omoniyi V, Evans MK. Influences of age, race, and sex on extracellular vesicle characteristics. Theranostics 2022; 12(9):4459-4476. doi:10.7150/thno.72676. Available from

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Graphic abstract

Recent attention has focused on the use of extracellular vesicles (EVs) as biological indicators of health and disease. These small, nano-sized membrane bound vesicles are secreted from cells into the extracellular space and can be readily isolated from bodily fluids. EVs can carry various bioactive molecules as cargo including DNA, RNA, proteins, and lipids. These EVs can provide a snapshot of the cell of origin and a window of opportunity to assess normal physiological states as well as pathophysiological states. For EVs to further develop as potential biomarkers of disease, it is important to characterize whether these vesicles and their associated cargo are altered in the context of demographic factors. Here, we summarize the current literature on how demographics such as age, race, and sex affect the levels and cargo of EVs. Age and sex influence both EV cargo and concentration while race studies report differences mostly in EV protein cargo. This review also identifies areas of future research and important considerations for the clinical use of EVs as biomarkers.

Keywords: extracellular vesicles, exosomes, cargo, biomarker, age, race, sex