Extracellular vesicles as carriers of microRNA, proteins and lipids in tumor microenvironment

Int J Cancer. 2016 Jan 1;138(1):14-21. doi: 10.1002/ijc.29417. Epub 2015 Jan 23.


In recent years, the knowledge about the control of tumor microenvironment has increased and emerged as an important player in tumorigenesis. The role of normal stromal cells in the tumor initiation and progression has brought our vision in to the forefront of cell-to-cell communication. In this review, we focus on the mechanism of communication between stromal and tumor cells, which is based on the exchange of extracellular vesicles (EVs). We describe several, evergrowing, pieces of evidence that EVs transfer messages through their miRNA, lipid, protein and nucleic acid contents. A better understanding of this sophisticated method of communication between normal cancer cells may lead to developing novel approaches for personalized diagnostics and therapeutics.

Keywords: Lipids; MSCs; RNA; exosomes; extracellular vesicles; mesenchymal stem cells; microRNA; proteins; tumor microenvironment.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biological Transport
  • Cell Communication
  • Extracellular Vesicles / genetics
  • Extracellular Vesicles / metabolism*
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Neoplastic
  • Humans
  • Lipids
  • Mesenchymal Stem Cells / metabolism
  • MicroRNAs
  • Neoplasm Metastasis
  • Neoplasms / genetics
  • Neoplasms / metabolism*
  • Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Proteins
  • Signal Transduction
  • Tumor Microenvironment*


  • Lipids
  • MicroRNAs
  • Proteins