Sunitinib and Axitinib increase secretion and glycolytic activity of small extracellular vesicles in renal cell carcinoma

Cancer Gene Ther. 2022 Jun;29(6):683-696. doi: 10.1038/s41417-021-00345-1. Epub 2021 Jun 4.


Extracellular vesicles (EVs) encompass a wide range of vesicles that are released by all cell types. They package protein, nucleic acids, metabolites, and other cargo that can be delivered to recipient cells and affect their phenotypes. However, little is known about how pharmaceutical agents can alter EV secretion, protein and metabolic cargo, and the active biological processes taking place in these vesicles. In this study, we isolated EVs from human renal cell carcinoma (RCC) cells treated with tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKIs) Sunitinib and Axitinib. We found these TKIs increase the number of large (lEVs) and small extracellular vesicles (sEVs) secreted from RCC cells in a dose-dependent manner. In addition, quantitative proteomics revealed that metabolic proteins are enriched in sEVs secreted from Sunitinib-treated cells. In particular, the glucose transporter GLUT1 was enriched in sEVs purified from TKI-treated cells. These sEVs displayed increased glucose uptake and glycolytic metabolism compared to sEVs released from vehicle-treated cells. Overexpression of GLUT1 in RCC cells augmented GLUT1 levels in sEVs, which subsequently displayed higher glucose uptake and glycolytic activity. Together, these findings suggest that these TKIs alter metabolic cargo and activity in RCC sEVs.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Axitinib / pharmacology
  • Carcinoma, Renal Cell* / drug therapy
  • Carcinoma, Renal Cell* / metabolism
  • Extracellular Vesicles* / metabolism
  • Glucose / metabolism
  • Glucose Transporter Type 1 / genetics
  • Humans
  • Kidney Neoplasms* / drug therapy
  • Kidney Neoplasms* / metabolism
  • Sunitinib / metabolism
  • Sunitinib / pharmacology


  • Glucose Transporter Type 1
  • Axitinib
  • Glucose
  • Sunitinib