Extracellular vesicles: emerging targets for cancer therapy

Trends Mol Med. 2014 Jul;20(7):385-93. doi: 10.1016/j.molmed.2014.03.002. Epub 2014 Apr 3.


Extracellular vesicles (EVs), including exosomes, microvesicles, and apoptotic bodies, are released by almost all cell types, including tumour cells. Through transfer of their molecular contents, EVs are capable of altering the function of recipient cells. Increasing evidence suggests a key role for EV mediated intercellular communication in a variety of cellular processes involved in tumour development and progression, including immune suppression, angiogenesis, and metastasis. Aspects of EV biogenesis or function are therefore increasingly being considered as targets for anticancer therapy. Here, we summarise the current knowledge on the contributions of EVs to cancer pathogenesis and discuss novel therapeutic strategies to target EVs to prevent tumour growth and spread.

Keywords: cancer therapy; exosomes; extracellular vesicles; metastasis; microvesicles; tumour microenvironment.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antineoplastic Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Cell Communication / drug effects*
  • Cell Communication / physiology
  • Humans
  • Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Neoplasms / metabolism*
  • Transport Vesicles / drug effects*
  • Transport Vesicles / physiology


  • Antineoplastic Agents