Exosomes - structure, biogenesis and biological role in non-small-cell lung cancer

Scand J Immunol. 2015 Jan;81(1):2-10. doi: 10.1111/sji.12247.


Many different cells produce and release membraneous microvesicles (MV) or exosomes into their microenvironment. Exosomes represent a specific subtype of secreted derived vesicles which are defined as homogenous vesicles of 30-100 nm lined by a lipid bilayer, which contain a specific set of proteins, lipids, and nucleic acids. There are clear evidences that they serve as important biological signals messengers and carriers in physiological as well as in pathological processes. Those derived from tumours (tumour-derived exosomes, TD-exosomes) function as protumourigenic factors that can mediate intercellular communication in the tumour microenvironment and also contribute to cancer progression. The main functions of exosomes in the cancer microenvironment include the following: promotion of primary cancer growth, stimulation of angiogenesis, activation of stromal fibroblasts, sculpting the cancer ECM, generation of a premetastatic niche and suppression of host immune response. Exosomes have recently emerged as potentially promising diagnostic and prognostic biomarkers in cancer and other diseases. This article is a summary of information about the structure and origin of exosomes and also indicates the importance of exosomes and microRNAs in lung cancer. The role of exosomes in NSCLC is little known, and its explanation requires thorough research.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Carcinoma, Non-Small-Cell Lung / metabolism
  • Carcinoma, Non-Small-Cell Lung / pathology*
  • Cell Communication
  • Endosomal Sorting Complexes Required for Transport / metabolism
  • Exosomes* / chemistry
  • Exosomes* / genetics
  • Exosomes* / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Lipids / analysis
  • Lung Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Lung Neoplasms / pathology*
  • MicroRNAs / genetics
  • Multivesicular Bodies / metabolism
  • Neovascularization, Pathologic / pathology
  • Tumor Microenvironment*


  • Endosomal Sorting Complexes Required for Transport
  • Lipids
  • MicroRNAs