The continuing story of extracellular vesicles

In football, there is a saying that the second season after promotion to a higher league is usually the most difficult one. As a newbie in the next league, some teams may tend to underestimate you but this will not happen anymore in your second season. That’s what they say.
Well, for us and our Trillium Extracellular Vesicles we were also facing the second season this year. After our first issue in 2019 – which was well received by scientists and the general audience – we also felt a certain pressure to fulfil expectations. And then there was something that we did not expect when we first sat together to fill-in the list of authors – a small virus that has strongly changed our entire world. Of course, the Sars-CoV-2 virus has also influenced our daily research on extracellular vesicles (EVs). Being in home office and finding the right balance between research, preparing lunch for the children and discussing in video meetings was not easy for all of us. As for now, it appears that this situation will continue for a bit.

How the corona virus has changed the EV field and the interaction between researchers is nicely summarised in the opening perspective contributed by Dominik Buschmann (Johns Hopkins University). It shows that using video presentations and online tools, we managed to stick together and it seems that the EV-community has moved even closer together. In this context, Christoph Metzner and co-workers (University of Veterinary Medicine Vienna) discuss similarities and differences between viruses and EVs, which now becomes more important than ever. And EVs do not only play a role in viral infections, but also in bacterial and fungal infections. In plants, this role is only begun to be explored and Aline Koch and her team (University of Hohenheim) provide an important example for this interaction. By the way, this manuscript is also the first original contribution in our TEV.

Stepping away from these infection topics, EVs are also interesting to be developed as biomarker in the diagnosis and prognosis of different diseases. While Christoph Lipps (Justus-Liebig-University Gießen) discusses opportunities in cardiovascular diseases, the team of Michael Pfaffl (TU Munich) has outline promises and challenges when developing RNA-based EV markers. Most definitely, these avenues will become more important in future research to make disease detection more specific and selective.

Under physiological conditions, EVs are also important mediators of signalling and it is important to understand their release mechanism from different perspectives. Thus, Julia Groß and her group (University Medical Center Göttingen) are discussing how sorting and secretion pathways influence the formation of EVs in different cellular compartments. Following up on physiologically release EVs, the team of Eva-Maria Krämer-Albers (University Mainz) shone light on the influence of physical activity on EV release. For some of us, sports are not physiological but it appears that there is a link between physical and neural activity and their involved EVs.

Finally yet importantly, our TEV2020 features a perspective paper from Peter Altevogt (DKFZ Heidelberg) which postulates mechanisms by which tumour EVs can bypass phagocytosis. It is important to mention that Prof Altevogt was just recently elected as honorary member of our German Society for Extracellular Vesicles (       

I hope you enjoy reading this journal as much as I enjoyed once again putting it together. The authors and reviewers have made tremendous jobs at writing and constructively reviewing the manuscripts. Once again, Tobias Tertel and Michel Bremer (Essen) were irreplaceable for designing and redrawing all pictures and figures. Finally yet importantly, I am grateful to the Trillium Publisher team, without whom it would have been impossible to continue this journal – this may be the start of a longer journey together.

I wish everyone an exciting read and hope to see you again at an upcoming EV symposium – online or in person!

Gregor Fuhrmann