By: Billy Ledbetter, Jr., M.D.
What are exosomes?
Exosomes are said to be the future of cellular medicine. They have been found to have positive impacts on wellness, antiaging and longevity.
Exosomes are tiny subcellular nanovesicles produced inside of cells, but released to the outside of cells. They carry information to other cells that are either close by or far away from the cells they originated from. Think of tiny little buses that are billionths of a meter in size, that can only be seen with an electron microscope, but can carry 1000s of passengers each, and can selectively drop them off wherever they are needed.
In humans, nearly every cell type makes exosomes (platelets, stem cells, brain cells, etc) and they are found in nearly every tissue of the body. They are simply messengers or couriers that are vital for cell to cell communication, and they carry information in the form of proteins, lipids, and nucleic acids. When this information is delivered to other cells, signaling those other cells either directly or indirectly (epigenetics), it causes those cells to act or behave a certain way. This is usually for the betterment of the cells and body as a whole.
One exception would be cancer cells, which are just your own cells that have gone haywire. Cancer cells also produce exosomes, but the messaging they carry to other cells benefit themselves to help them grow and spread. That may be good for cancer cells, but it is certainly not for the other cells or body as a whole. There is a lot of exciting research regarding exosomes being used against cancer.
One thing we know is that a significant component of aging and a lot of dis-ease in humans (including some cancers) is caused from chronic inflammation and the cellular garbage that ensues (scientists even refer to this as “inflammaging” and “garb-aging”). Most everyone agrees that we live in an inflammation producing world (environmental pollution, electrosmog, etc), live inflammation producing lives (high stress, sedentary, etc), and eat a lot of inflammation producing foods (sodas, processed foods, sugar, GMO foods, etc).
Keeping inflammation under control is paramount to healthier living, wellness, and longevity. One of the things scientists have discovered is that exosomes from normal healthy cells are extremely good at reducing overall inflammation. They do not fully understand why, but they are working on it.
Studies have shown that when exosomes from a young healthy donor were given to an older recipient, there was a profound decrease in systemic inflammation and even a restoration/renewal of certain cellular functions (like inactive cells in the thymus gland beginning to function again). This was not found to happen when exosomes taken from older donors were used.
It appears that young cells make exosomes with “better” information than exosomes from older cells. The information these “younger” exosomes deliver seems to allow the older cells to function better, like the way they functioned when they were younger, before all the toxins, pollution, inflammation and aging degraded their ability to perform at their best.
Exosomes are still cutting edge and still being researched heavily. As we get better a understanding of their function and abilities, it is obvious they will have an even bigger role in cellular medicine. They most certainly will be used even more in disease prevention, disease treatment, wellness, anti-aging and longevity.
Exosomes are already being used now by forward thinking practitioners and their patients to perhaps decrease inflammation, slow down the effects of aging and increase wellness by causing cells to function better and function “younger”.