Exosomes derived from radioresistant breast cancer cells promote therapeutic resistance in naïve recipient cells

Radiation resistance is a significant challenge in the treatment of breast cancer in humans. Human breast cancer is commonly treated with surgery and adjuvant chemotherapy/radiotherapy, but recurrence and metastasis upon the development of therapy resistance results in treatment failure. Exosomes are extracellular vesicles secreted by most cell types and contain biologically active cargo that, when transferred to recipient cells, can influence the cells’ genome and proteome.

Researchers from the University of Edinburgh propose that exosomes secreted by radioresistant (RR) cells may be able to disseminate the RR phenotype throughout the tumour. Here, they isolated exosomes from the human breast cancer cell line, MDA-MB-231, and the canine mammary carcinoma cell line, REM134, and their RR counterparts to investigate the effects of exosomes derived from RR cells on non-RR recipient cells. Canine mammary cancer cells lines have previously been shown to be excellent translational models of human breast cancer. This is consistent with our current data showing that exosomes derived from RR cells can increase cell viability and colony formation in naïve recipient cells and increase chemotherapy and radiotherapy resistance, in both species. These results are consistent in cancer stem cell and non-cancer stem cell populations. Significantly, exosomes derived from RR cells increased the tumoursphere-forming ability of recipient cells compared to exosomes derived from non-RR cells. These results show that exosomes are potential mediators of radiation resistance that could be therapeutically targeted.

Payton C, Pang LY, Gray M, Argyle DJ. (2021) Exosomes Derived from Radioresistant Breast Cancer Cells Promote Therapeutic Resistance in Naïve Recipient Cells. J Pers Med 11(12):1310. [article]

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