Illuminating RNA trafficking and functional delivery by extracellular vesicles

Willemijn S de Voogt, Marvin E Tanenbaum, Pieter Vader

Research output: Contribution to journal/periodicalBook/Film/Article reviewScientific

22 Citations (Scopus)


RNA-based therapeutics are highly promising for the treatment of numerous diseases, by their ability to tackle the genetic origin in multiple possible ways. RNA molecules are, however, incapable of crossing cell membranes, hence a safe and efficient delivery vehicle is pivotal. Extracellular vesicles (EVs) are endogenously derived nano-sized particles and possess several characteristics which make them excellent candidates as therapeutic RNA delivery agent. This includes the inherent capability to functionally transfer RNAs in a selective manner and an enhanced safety profile compared to synthetic particles. Nonetheless, the fundamental mechanisms underlying this selective inter- and intracellular trafficking and functional transfer of RNAs by EVs are poorly understood. Improving our understanding of these systems is a key element of working towards an EV-based or EV-mimicking system for the functional delivery of therapeutic RNA. In this review, state-of-the-art approaches to detect and visualize RNA in situ and in live cells are discussed, as well as strategies to assess functional RNA transfer, highlighting their potential in studying EV-RNA trafficking mechanisms.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)250-264
Number of pages15
JournalAdvanced drug delivery reviews
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2021


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