Extracellular Vesicles – Novel Opportunities to Understand and Detect Neoplastic Diseases

With a size range from 30 to 1000 nm, extracellular vesicles (EVs) are one of the smallest cell components able to transport biologically active molecules. They mediate intercellular communications and play a fundamental role in the maintenance of tissue homeostasis and pathogenesis in several types of diseases. In particular, EVs actively contribute to cancer initiation and progression, and there is emerging understanding of their role in creation of the metastatic niche. This fact underlies the recent exponential growth in EV research, which has improved our understanding of their specific roles in disease and their potential applications in diagnosis and therapy. EVs and their biomolecular cargo reflect the state of the diseased donor cells, and can be detected in body fluids and exploited as biomarkers in cancer and other diseases. Relatively few studies have been published on EVs in the veterinary field. This review provides an overview of the features and biology of EVs as well as recent developments in EV research including techniques for isolation and analysis, and will address the way in which the EVs released by diseased tissues can be studied and exploited in the field of veterinary pathology. Researchers at Utrecht University emphasize the important contribution that pathologists can make to the field of EV research: pathologists can help EV scientists in studying and confirming the role of EVs and their molecular cargo in diseased tissues and as biomarkers in liquid biopsies.

Main roles of cancer-derived extracellular vesicles (EVs) in tumor pathogenesis


Tumor-derived EVs alter the behavior of cancer cells, thereby facilitating cancer progression. Tumor-derived EVs induce alterations in immune cells, endothelial cells, fibroblasts, and mesenchymal stem cells in order to establish a tumor microenvironment that promotes tumor cell survival and dissemination. CAFs, cancer-associated fibroblasts.

Bongiovanni L, Andriessen A, Wauben MHM, Hoen ENMN, de Bruin A. (2021) Extracellular Vesicles: Novel Opportunities to Understand and Detect Neoplastic Diseases. Vet Pathol [Epub ahead of print]. [article]

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