Therapy-induced chemoexosomes – sinister small extracellular vesicles that support tumor survival and progression

Chemotherapy involves the use of multiple cytotoxic or cytostatic drugs acting by various mechanisms to kill or arrest the growth of cancer cells. Chemotherapy remains the most utilized approach for controlling cancer. Emerging evidence indicates that cancer cells activate various pro-survival mechanisms to cope with chemotherapeutic stress. These mechanisms persist during treatment and often help orchestrate tumor regrowth and patient relapse. Exosomes due to their nature of carrying and transferring multiple biologically active components have emerged as key players in cancer pathogenesis. Recent data demonstrates that chemotherapeutic stress enhances the secretion and alters the cargo carried by exosomes. These altered exosomes, which the authors refer to as chemoexosomes, are capable of transferring cargo to target tumor cells that can enhance their chemoresistance, increase their metastatic behavior and in certain cases even aid in endowing tumor cells with cancer stem cell-like properties. Researchers from the University of Alabama at Birmingham discuss the recent developments in our understanding of the impact chemoexosomes have on tumor survival and progression.

Bandari SK, Tripathi K, Rangarajan S, Sanderson RD. (2020) Therapy-induced chemoexosomes: Sinister small extracellular vesicles that support tumor survival and progression. Cancer Lett 493:113-119. [abstract]

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