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BioMed Research International
Volume 2014, Article ID 756327, 17 pages
http://dx.doi.org/10.1155/2014/756327
Review Article

Microparticles: A New Perspective in Central Nervous System Disorders

1Department of Biology, University of British Columbia Okanagan Campus, 3333 University Way, Kelowna, BC, Canada V1V 1V7
2Health and Exercise Sciences, University of British Columbia Okanagan Campus, Kelowna, BC, Canada V1V 1V7

Received 17 February 2014; Accepted 13 March 2014; Published 9 April 2014

Academic Editor: Flavia Antonucci

Copyright © 2014 Stephanie M. Schindler et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Abstract

Microparticles (MPs) are a heterogeneous population of small cell-derived vesicles, ranging in size from 0.1 to 1 μm. They contain a variety of bioactive molecules, including proteins, biolipids, and nucleic acids, which can be transferred between cells without direct cell-to-cell contact. Consequently, MPs represent a novel form of intercellular communication, which could play a role in both physiological and pathological processes. Growing evidence indicates that circulating MPs contribute to the development of cancer, inflammation, and autoimmune and cardiovascular diseases. Most cell types of the central nervous system (CNS) have also been shown to release MPs, which could be important for neurodevelopment, CNS maintenance, and pathologies. In disease, levels of certain MPs appear elevated; therefore, they may serve as biomarkers allowing for the development of new diagnostic tools for detecting the early stages of CNS pathologies. Quantification and characterization of MPs could also provide useful information for making decisions on treatment options and for monitoring success of therapies, particularly for such difficult-to-treat diseases as cerebral malaria, multiple sclerosis, and Alzheimer’s disease. Overall, studies on MPs in the CNS represent a novel area of research, which promises to expand the knowledge on the mechanisms governing some of the physiological and pathophysiological processes of the CNS.