||It has been suggested that this article be merged into Microvesicles. (Discuss) Proposed since December 2011.|
Endothelial microparticles are small vesicles that are released from endothelial cells and can be found circulating in the blood. The microparticle consists of a plasma membrane surrounding a small amount of cytosol. The membrane of the endothelial microparticle contains receptors and other cell surface molecules which enable the identification of the endothelial origin of the microparticle, and allow it to be distinguished from microparticles from other cells, such as platelets.
Although circulating endothelial microparticles can be found in the blood of normal individuals, increased numbers of circulating endothelial microparticles have been identified in individuals with certain diseases, including hypertension and cardiovascular disorders, and pre-eclampsia  and various forms of vasculitis. The endothelial microparticles in some of these disease states have been shown to have arrays of cell surface molecules reflecting a state of endothelial dysfunction. Therefore, endothelial microparticles may be useful as an indicator or index of the functional state of the endothelium in disease, and may potentially play key roles in the pathogenesis of certain diseases, including rheumatoid arthritis.
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