Extracellular vesicles in immunomodulation and tumor progression

Extracellular vesicles have emerged as prominent regulators of the immune response during tumor progression. EVs contain a diverse repertoire of molecular cargo that plays a critical role in immunomodulation. Here, researchers from Johns Hopkins University identify the role of EVs as mediators of communication between cancer and immune cells. This expanded role of EVs may shed light on the mechanisms behind tumor progression and provide translational diagnostic and prognostic tools for immunologists.

Cancer EVs directly regulate tumor progression

Fig. 3

a, EVs released by cancer cells promote tumor progression through the suppression of adaptive and innate immune cells. Impeding effective antigen crosspresentation in DCs, EVs also contribute to T cell dysfunction through check point inhibition. Additionally, cancer EVs polarize mononuclear cells towards an immunosuppressive phenotype, while reducing cytotoxicity in NK cells. Less restricted by physical constraints, cancer EVs demonstrate far-reaching immunosuppressive effects on circulatory and distal immune cells. b, Cancer EVs function as vessels for tumor recognition. During a functional immune response, EVs deliver foreign antigens to dendritic cells indirectly stimulating cytotoxic T cells, while macrophages actively sequester cancer EVs from circulation, promoting cancer-cell recognition. Molecules shown in red stimulate immune activation; molecules shown in black are immunosuppressive cargo.

Marar C, Starich B, Wirtz, D. (2021) Extracellular vesicles in immunomodulation and tumor progression. Nat Immunol (2021) [epub ahead of print]. [abstract]

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