The field of neuroscience seeks to examine the structure and function of the human brain and nervous system, the most complex organ system. To accomplish this difficult task, researchers use multidisciplinary tools to map and further understand the nervous system and brain both as a whole organ and at the cellular level. In the vast and complex structure of the brain and central nervous system, facilitating communication between the cells within and prereferral is key to maintaining homeostasis in everyday brain function. Being an important method in cellular communication, exosomes are now understood to play a key role in not only healthy function, but also in the development and progression of neurological disorders. In the brain and central nervous system, exosomes have been found to play a critical role in many neurological disorders such as irregular neuronal development, neurodegenerative diseases (Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s), epilepsy, stroke, brain injury (TBI) and recovery, and brain cancer.
Not only do exosomes have roles in the development and progression of these injuries and disease conditions, they may also be able to help treat brain injuries and neurological disorders. Unlike stem cells, exosomes have the ability to pass the blood-brain barrier. Crossing the blood-brain barrier is one of the most difficult obstacles to overcome in the pharmaceutical industry, and exosomes are ideal candidates for treating neurodegenerative diseases or conditions as their capability to cross the BBB allows them to carry previously blocked drugs to their sites of action. Treatment with stem cell exosomes for neurological conditions is shown to have anti-neuroinflammatory potential, white matter axonal and vascular remodeling capabilities, and to promote neurogenesis. These are just a few examples of how exosomes enhance neuroprotection and neurorestoration. While further discoveries are yet to be made to fully understand the role of exosomes in neurological conditions, exosomes provide an exciting therapeutic avenue to treat devasting brain injuries and diseases.