Extracellular vesicles in urological malignancies

Biochim Biophys Acta Rev Cancer. 2021 Aug;1876(1):188570. doi: 10.1016/j.bbcan.2021.188570. Epub 2021 May 19.


Extracellular vesicles (EVs) are small lipid bound structures released from cells containing bioactive cargoes. Both the type of cargo and amount loaded varies compared to that of the parent cell. The characterisation of EVs in cancers of the male urogenital tract has identified several cargoes with promising diagnostic and disease monitoring potential. EVs released by cancers of the male urogenital tract promote cell-to-cell communication, migration, cancer progression and manipulate the immune system promoting metastasis by evading the immune response. Their use as diagnostic biomarkers represents a new area of screening and disease detection, potentially reducing the need for invasive biopsies. Many validated EV cargoes have been found to have superior sensitivity and specificity than current diagnostic tools currently in use. The use of EVs to improve disease monitoring and develop novel therapeutics will enable clinicians to individualise patient management in the exciting era of personalised medicine.

Keywords: Biomarker; Cancer; Epididymosomes; Extracellular vesicles; Liquid biopsy; Male reproductive tract; Prostasomes.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biomarkers, Tumor / genetics
  • Biomarkers, Tumor / metabolism*
  • Extracellular Vesicles / genetics
  • Extracellular Vesicles / immunology
  • Extracellular Vesicles / metabolism*
  • Extracellular Vesicles / pathology
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Neoplastic
  • Genital Neoplasms, Male / genetics
  • Genital Neoplasms, Male / immunology
  • Genital Neoplasms, Male / metabolism*
  • Genital Neoplasms, Male / pathology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Prognosis
  • Signal Transduction*
  • Urologic Neoplasms / genetics
  • Urologic Neoplasms / immunology
  • Urologic Neoplasms / metabolism*
  • Urologic Neoplasms / pathology


  • Biomarkers, Tumor