Extracellular vesicles in spontaneous preterm birth

Ramkumar Menon, Hend Shahin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

32 Scopus citations


Feto-maternal communication helps to maintain pregnancy and contributes to parturition at term and preterm. Endocrine and immune factor are well-reported communication mediators. Recent advances in extracellular vesicle (EV) biology have introduced them as major communication channels between the mother and fetus. EVs are round structures with a lipid bilayer membrane. EVs are generally categorized based on their size and mode of biogenesis. The most commonly reported EVs are exosomes with a size range of 30-160 nm that are formed inside the intraluminal vesicles of multivesicular body. Microvesicles (MVs) are larger than > 200 nm and formed by outward budding of plasma membrane. Vesicles are released from all cells and carry various factors that reflect the physiologic state of cell at the time of their release. Analysis of vesicle provides a snapshot of origin cell. Recent studies in perinatal medicine have shown that exosomes are key communicators between feto-maternal units, and they can cross placenta. Fetal-derived exosomes released under term labor-associated conditions can cause parturition-associated changes in maternal uterine tissues. Exosomes carrying inflammatory cargo can cause preterm birth in animal models suggesting their functional role in parturition. A few reports have profiled differences between exosome cargos from term and preterm pregnancies and indicated their biomarker potential to predict high-risk pregnancy status. There are hardly any reports on MVs and their functional roles in reproduction. Herein, we review of EVs and MVs, their characteristics, function, and usefulness predicting adverse pregnancy complications such as preterm birth.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere13353
JournalAmerican Journal of Reproductive Immunology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2021


  • amniotic fluid
  • biomarkers
  • exosomes
  • microvesicles
  • signaling

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology
  • Reproductive Medicine
  • Obstetrics and Gynecology


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