Extracellular vesicles in cancer progression: are they part of the problem or part of the solution?

Nanomedicine (Lond). 2020 Nov;15(26):2625-2641. doi: 10.2217/nnm-2020-0256. Epub 2020 Oct 23.


Extracellular vesicles (EVs) are released especially by cancer cells. They modulate the tumor microenvironment by interacting with immune cells while carrying immunosuppressive or immunostimulatory molecules. In this review, we will explore some conflicting reports regarding the immunological outcomes of EVs in cancer progression, in which they might initiate an antitumor immune response or an immunosuppressive response. Concerning immunosuppression, the role of tumor-derived EVs' in the adenosinergic system is underexplored. The enhancement of adenosine (ADO) levels in the tumor microenvironment impairs T-cell function and cytokine release. However, some tumor-derived EVs may deliver immunostimulatory factors, promoting immunogenic activity, even with ADO production. The modulatory role of ADO over the tumor progression represents a piece in an intricate microenvironment with anti and pro tumoral seesaw-like mechanisms.

Keywords: adenosine; cancer; extracellular vesicles; immunology; tumor microenvironment.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't