Introduction: Exosomes are nanovesicles that play important functions in a variety of physiological and pathological conditions. They are powerful cell-to-cell communication tool thanks to the protein, mRNA, miRNA, and lipid cargoes they carry. They are also emerging as valuable diagnostic and prognostic biomarker sources. Urinary exosomes carry information from all the cells of the urinary tract, downstream of the podocyte. Rare kidney diseases are a subset of an inherited diseases whose genetic diagnosis can be unclear, and presentation can vary due to genetic, epigenetic, and environmental factors. Areas covered: In this review, we focus on a group of rare and often neglected kidney diseases, for which we have sufficient available literature data on urinary exosomes. The analysis of their content can help to comprehend pathological mechanisms and to identify biomarkers for diagnosis, prognosis, and therapeutic targets. Expert opinion: The foreseeable large-scale application of system biology approach to the profiling of exosomal proteins as a source of renal disease biomarkers will be also useful to stratify patients with rare kidney diseases whose penetrance, phenotypic presentation, and age of onset vary sensibly. This can ameliorate the clinical management.
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