Exosomes are nanovesicles shed by cells as a means of communication with other cells. Exosomes contain mRNAs, microRNAs (miRs) and functional proteins. In the present paper, researchers from Ohio State and Penn State Universities develop a mathematical model of tumor-immune interaction by means of exosomes shed by pancreatic cancer cells and dendritic cells. Cancer cells’ exosomes contain miRs that promote their proliferation and that inhibit immune response by dendritic cells, and by CD4+ and CD8+ T cells. Dendritic cells release exosomes with proteins that induce apoptosis of cancer cells and that block regulatory T cells. Simulations of the model show how the size of the pancreatic cancer can be determined by measurement of specific miRs (miR-21 and miR-203 in the case of pancreatic cancer), suggesting these miRs as biomarkers for cancer.
Left panels Exosomes are secreted by cancer cells and by dendritic cells. Right panel Cytokines and miRNAs affect the interactions between cancer and the immune system; Sharp arrows indicate activation/production/enhancement, and blocked arrows indicate inhibition