From Biology-Online Dictionary | Biology-Online Dictionary


noun, plural: microvesicles

(cell biology) A small vesicle that is shed directly from the plasma membrane (ranging from 100 nm to 1000 nm) and may play a role in intercellular communication


A microvesicle is a type of vesicle that is very small and derived from the plasma membrane. It is formed from the fragments of plasma membrane ranging from 100 nm to 1000 nm. It may come from different cells. Some of the sources are neutrophils, monocytes, megakaryocytes, tumor cells, placenta, blood platelets, and endothelial cells. Microvesicles from endothelial cells are referred to as endothelial microparticles, which are found circulating in the blood. They contain a small amount of cytosol. Too many microparticles circulating in the blood though have been associated with certain diseases, e.g. cardiovascular disorders, pre-eclampsia, vasculitis, and hypertension.1, 2

Microvesicles may be involved in intercellular communication. It transports proteins, mRNA, and miRNA from one cell to another.3 It also removes misfolded proteins and other metabolic wastes from the cell.

Word origin: micro- (small)

Abbreviation / Acronym:

  • MV

See also:

1 Boulanger, C. M. (2010). "Microparticles, vascular function and hypertension.". Current Opinion in Nephrology and Hypertension. 19 (2): 177–180.
2 Ling, L. (2014). "Evaluation of plasma endothelial microparticles in pre-eclampsia." (PDF). J Int Med Res. 42 (1): 42–51.
3 Balaj, L., Lessard, R., Dai, L., Cho, Y. J., Pomeroy, S. L., Breakefield, X. O., and Skog, J. (2011). "Tumour microvesicles contain retrotransposon elements and amplified oncogene sequences". Nature Communications. 2 (2): 180.