The emerging roles and therapeutic potential of exosomes in epithelial ovarian cancer

Mol Cancer. 2017 May 15;16(1):92. doi: 10.1186/s12943-017-0659-y.


Ovarian cancer (OC) is one of the three types of malignant tumors in the female reproductive system, and epithelial ovarian cancer (EOC) is its most typical form. Due to the asymptomatic nature of the early stages and resistance to chemotherapy, EOC has both a poor prognosis and a high fatality rate. Current treatments for OC are very limited, and the 5-years survival rate is approximately 30%. Exosomes, which are microvesicles ranging from approximately 30-100 nm in size that are secreted by living cells, can be produced from different cell types and detected in various body fluids. Cancer cells can secrete more exosomes than healthy cells, and more importantly, the content of cancer cell-derived exosomes is distinct. The exosomes shedding from tumor cells are considered to be involved in tumor progression and metastasis. As such, exosomes are expected to be potential tools for tumor diagnosis and treatment. In this review, we briefly present the emerging roles of exosomes in OC and summarize related articles about their roles as diagnostic or prognostic biomarkers and in the treatment and drug resistance of OC.

Keywords: Biomarker; Drug resistance; Exosomes; Ovarian cancer; Therapy.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Biomarkers, Tumor / genetics*
  • Biomarkers, Tumor / metabolism
  • Body Fluids / metabolism
  • Carcinoma, Ovarian Epithelial
  • Cell-Derived Microparticles / metabolism
  • Exosomes / genetics*
  • Exosomes / metabolism
  • Female
  • Humans
  • MicroRNAs / genetics
  • Neoplasms, Glandular and Epithelial / drug therapy*
  • Neoplasms, Glandular and Epithelial / genetics
  • Neoplasms, Glandular and Epithelial / pathology
  • Ovarian Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Ovarian Neoplasms / genetics
  • Ovarian Neoplasms / pathology


  • Biomarkers, Tumor
  • MicroRNAs