Frailty and sarcopenia are typical geriatric conditions with a complex pathophysiology. Extracellular vesicles (EVs) are key regulators of age-related diseases, but the mechanisms underlying physical frailty, sarcopenia, and EVs are not well understood.
A systematic literature review was conducted to examine the evidence supporting an association between EVs and physical frailty and/or sarcopenia by searching the electronic databases, including the Cochrane Library, PubMed, and Embase, from January 2000 to January 2021.
A total of 216 cross-sectional studies were retrieved, and after the removal of 43 duplicate records, the title and abstract of 167 articles were screened, identifying 6 relevant articles for full-text review. Of the studies five met the inclusion criteria, and heterogeneity among studies was high. There is controversy regarding whether frailty and/or sarcopenia are related to circulating EV levels; however, the cargo of EVs has been associated with frailty and sarcopenia in various ways, such as microRNAs, mitochondrial-derived vesicles (MDVs), and protein cargoes.
Recent studies, although limited, depicted that EVs could be one of the underlying mechanisms of frailty and/or sarcopenia. There is a possibility that physical frailty and sarcopenia may have specific EV concentrations and cargo profiles; however, further research is required to fully understand the mechanisms and identify potential biomarkers and early preventative strategies for physical frailty and sarcopenia.