Extracellular Vesicles Contain Putative Cancer Biomarkers

Subcell Biochem. 2021;97:363-374. doi: 10.1007/978-3-030-67171-6_13.


Emerging evidences have implicated extracellular vesicles (EVs), nanoparticles secreted by cells, in regulating cancer progression. Several seminal studies on EVs have added an additional layer to the previously unanswered questions in understanding the complexity of diseases such as cancer. It has been observed that EV content is highly heterogenous and it likely reflects the dynamic state of the parent cell. Hence, these nano-sized vesicles have been proposed as reservoirs of cancer biomarkers for diagnostic and prognostic purposes. Due to their presence in almost all biological fluids, ability to display membrane, and sometimes cytosolic, cargo of its host cell and increase in their number during disease states has supported the potential utility of EVs as an alternative to current methods of cancer diagnosis. The following chapter will discuss the use of cancer cell-derived EVs as a resource of tumor specific biomarkers for the early diagnosis of disease. In addition, EVs could also be used in personalised medicine as a resource of predictive biomarkers to understand a patient's response to therapy. Overall, EVs could be exploited as a source of cancer biomarkers and could aid in treatment and stratification options to improve patient survival and quality of life.

Keywords: Biomarkers; Cancer; Disease diagnosis; Extracellular vesicles; Tumor biomarkers.

MeSH terms

  • Biomarkers
  • Biomarkers, Tumor
  • Extracellular Vesicles*
  • Humans
  • Neoplasms* / diagnosis
  • Quality of Life


  • Biomarkers
  • Biomarkers, Tumor