The forces driving cancer extracellular vesicle secretion

Neoplasia. 2021 Jan;23(1):149-157. doi: 10.1016/j.neo.2020.11.011. Epub 2020 Dec 14.


The discovery that cancer cells discharge vast quantities of extracellular vesicles (EVs), underscored the explosion of the EV field. A large body of evidence now supports their onco-functionality in an array of contexts; stromal crosstalk, immune evasion, metastatic site priming, and drug resistance - justifying therapeutic intervention. The current bottleneck is a lack of clear understanding of why and how EV biogenesis ramps up in cancer cells, and hence where exactly avenues for intervention may reside. We know that EVs also play an array of physiological roles, therefore effective anticancer inhibition requires a target distinct enough from physiology to achieve efficacy. Taking the perspective that EV upregulation may be a consequence of the tumor landscape, we examine classic mutational events and tumor characteristics for EV regulators. All the while, aiming to illuminate topics worth further research in therapeutic development.

Keywords: Cancer cell signaling; Cancer therapy; Exosomes; Extracellular vesicles.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Biomarkers
  • Cell Communication
  • Disease Susceptibility
  • Energy Metabolism
  • Exosomes / metabolism
  • Extracellular Vesicles / metabolism*
  • Gene Expression Regulation
  • Humans
  • Neoplasms / etiology
  • Neoplasms / metabolism*
  • Neoplasms / pathology
  • Oncogenes
  • Signal Transduction
  • Tumor Microenvironment


  • Biomarkers