Extracellular Vesicles and Their Role in the Spatial and Temporal Expansion of Tumor-Immune Interactions

Int J Mol Sci. 2021 Mar 25;22(7):3374. doi: 10.3390/ijms22073374.


Extracellular vesicles (EVs) serve as trafficking vehicles and intercellular communication tools. Their cargo molecules directly reflect characteristics of their parental cell. This includes information on cell identity and specific cellular conditions, ranging from normal to pathological states. In cancer, the content of EVs derived from tumor cells is altered and can induce oncogenic reprogramming of target cells. As a result, tumor-derived EVs compromise antitumor immunity and promote cancer progression and spreading. However, this pro-oncogenic phenotype is constantly being challenged by EVs derived from the local tumor microenvironment and from remote sources. Here, we summarize the role of EVs in the tumor-immune cross-talk that includes, but is not limited to, immune cells in the tumor microenvironment. We discuss the potential of remotely released EVs from the microbiome and during physical activity to shape the tumor-immune cross-talk, directly or indirectly, and confer antitumor activity. We further discuss the role of proinflammatory EVs in the temporal development of the tumor-immune interactions and their potential use for cancer diagnostics.

Keywords: PD-L1; diagnostics; extracellular vesicle; innate immune responses; liquid biopsy; microbiome; physical activity; tumor evolution; tumor–immune microenvironment.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • B-Lymphocytes / metabolism
  • Cell Communication
  • Cell Proliferation
  • Extracellular Vesicles / immunology*
  • Humans
  • Immune System
  • Immunity, Innate
  • Inflammation
  • Killer Cells, Natural / metabolism
  • Liquid Biopsy
  • Mice
  • Neoplasms / immunology*
  • Phenotype
  • T-Lymphocytes / metabolism
  • Tumor Microenvironment*