From Dr. Mercola:
One way your cells communicate with each other is through the release of tiny “bubbles,” known as extracellular vesicles (EVs). These tiny cells are about the size of bacteria and viruses, and they’re only visible using an electron microscope.
For many years researchers believed EVs were carrying biological debris made up of various proteins and genetic material. It’s now known EVs have a much more important role, acting as ferries to send important messages to other cells.
Now a new study using roundworms has added more insights into how these cellular messengers work.
Extracellular Vesicles May Play a Significant Role in Human Health and Disease
Researchers from Rutgers University revealed 335 genes in roundworms (C. elegans) that supply information about the biology of EVs. About 10 percent of those genes were related to the formation, release, and, possibly, function of EVs.1
EVs are found in blood, urine, cerebrospinal fluid, and more, but it’s unknown where they originate, how they’re made, or how their “cargo of molecules” is released.2 In other words, EVs remain much of a mystery.
The EVs may be good or bad. For instance, they may play a role in sending messages between cells that promote tumor growth. The study also revealed more information about how EVs are produced and why they carry certain “cargo.”
For instance, EVs are known to carry proteins responsible for polycystic kidney disease, the most commonly inherited disease in humans, but no one knows why.3 Maureen Barr, lead author and a professor in the Department of Genetics in Rutgers’ School of Arts and Sciences, told Science Daily:4
“These EVs are exciting but scary because we don’t know what the mechanisms are that decide what is packaged inside them It’s like getting a letter in the mail and you don’t know whether it’s a letter saying that you won the lottery or a letter containing anthrax.”
C. elegans is the perfect vehicle for learning more about EVs because the worms have similar genes to humans. Such research could help uncover EVs’ significance for human health and disease. Barr continued5
“When we know exactly how they work, scientists will be able to use EVs for our advantage This means that pathological EVs that cause disease could be blocked and therapeutic EVs that can help heal can be designed to carry beneficial cargo.”
Your Body Is Constantly Communicating
EVs are only one way your cells receive important information. The microorganisms in your gut also play a role. For instance, your gut’s microorganisms trigger the production of cytokines. Cytokines are involved in regulating your immune system’s response to inflammation and infection.
Much like hormones, cytokines are signaling molecules that aid cell-to-cell communication, telling your cells where to go when your inflammatory response is initiated.
There are signals between your gut and your brain, most of which travel along your vagus nerve.6 Vagus is Latin for “wandering,” aptly named as this long nerve travels from your skull down through