Exosomes: composition, biogenesis, and mechanisms in cancer metastasis and drug resistance

Mol Cancer. 2019 Apr 2;18(1):75. doi: 10.1186/s12943-019-0991-5.


Tumor-derived exosomes (TDEs) participate in formation and progression of different cancer processes, including tumor microenvironment (TME) remodeling, angiogenesis, invasion, metastasis and drug-resistance. Exosomes initiate or suppress various signaling pathways in the recipient cells via transmitting heterogeneous cargoes. In this review we discuss exosome biogenesis, exosome mediated metastasis and chemoresistance. Furthermore, tumor derived exosomes role in tumor microenvironment remodeling, and angiogenesis is reviewed. Also, exosome induction of epithelial mesenchymal transition (EMT) is highlighted. More importantly, we discuss extensively how exosomes regulate drug resistance in several cancers. Thus, understanding exosome biogenesis, their contents and the molecular mechanisms and signaling pathways that are responsible for metastasis and drug-resistance mediated by TDEs may help to devise novel therapeutic approaches for cancer progression particularly to overcome therapy-resistance and preventing metastasis as major factors of cancer mortality.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Disease Progression
  • Drug Resistance, Neoplasm*
  • Exosomes / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Neoplasm Metastasis
  • Neoplasms / metabolism*
  • Signal Transduction
  • Tumor Microenvironment