Imaging exosome transfer from breast cancer cells to stroma at metastatic sites in orthotopic nude-mouse models

Adv Drug Deliv Rev. 2013 Mar;65(3):383-90. doi: 10.1016/j.addr.2012.08.007. Epub 2012 Aug 17.


Exosomes play an important role in cell-to-cell communication to promote tumor metastasis. In order to image the fate of cancer-cell-derived exosomes in orthotopic nude mouse models of breast cancer, we used green fluorescent protein (GFP)-tagged CD63, which is a general marker of exosomes. Breast cancer cells transferred their own exosomes to other cancer cells and normal lung tissue cells in culture. In orthotopic nude-mouse models, breast cancer cells secreted exosomes into the tumor microenvironment. Tumor-derived exosomes were incorporated into tumor-associated cells as well as circulating in the blood of mice with breast cancer metastases. These results suggest that tumor-derived exosomes may contribute to forming a niche to promote tumor growth and metastasis. Our results demonstrate the usefulness of GFP imaging to investigate the role of exosomes in cancer metastasis.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Breast Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Breast Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Cell Communication / physiology
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Exosomes / metabolism*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Mice
  • Mice, Nude
  • Neoplasm Metastasis
  • Optical Imaging
  • Stromal Cells / metabolism*
  • Tumor Microenvironment