The origin and functions of exosomes in cancer

Exosomes are nanovesicles having a maximum size of 150 nm and is a newly emerging focus in various fields of research. Its role in cargo trafficking along with its differential expression is associated with the disrupted homeostasis and provides an opportunity to defend against different diseases like cancer. Furthermore, exosomes are rich in cargos, which contain proteins and nucleic acids that directly reflect the metabolic state of the cells from which it originates. Researchers from the Rajiv Gandhi Centre for Biotechnology summarize recent studies on tumor-derived exosomes with an overview about biogenesis, their functions and potential of using as diagnostic and prognostic markers. They also discussed the current challenges and microfluidic-based detection approaches that might improve the detection of exosomes in different settings. More intricate studies of the molecular mechanisms in angiogenesis, pre-metastatic niche formation, and metastasis can give more promising insights and novel strategies in oncotherapeutics.

Role of exosomes in pre-metastatic niche formation


Exosomes will be released from the primary cancer cells into the extracellular sites. Distribution and specific organotropic integration of these vesicles with oncoproteins or nucleic acids as cargos lead to the development of pre-metastatic niche in the secondary site of cancer metastasis. Induction of different signaling pathways and activation of different immune cells in the secondary site helps in the maintenance of cancer favorable inflammatory microenvironment that promotes successful cancer cell metastasis.

Rajagopal C, Harikumar KB. (2018) The Origin and Functions of Exosomes in Cancer. Front Oncol 8:66. [article]

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