Ferroptosis and Cancer: Complex Relationship and Potential Application of Exosomes

Front Cell Dev Biol. 2021 Sep 8;9:733751. doi: 10.3389/fcell.2021.733751. eCollection 2021.


Cell death induction has become popular as a novel cancer treatment. Ferroptosis, a newly discovered form of cell death, features regulated, iron-dependent accumulation of lipid hydroperoxides. Since this word "ferroptosis" was coined, numerous studies have examined the complex relationship between ferroptosis and cancer. Here, starting from the intrinsic hallmarks of cancer and cell death, we discuss the theoretical basis of cell death induction as a cancer treatment. We review various aspects of the relationship between ferroptosis and cancer, including the genetic basis, epigenetic modification, cancer stem cells, and the tumor microenvironment, to provide information and support for further research on ferroptosis. We also note that exosomes can be applied in ferroptosis-based therapy. These extracellular vesicles can deliver different molecules to modulate cancer cells and cell death pathways. Using exosomes to control ferroptosis occurring in targeted cells is promising for cancer therapy.

Keywords: apoptosis; cancer; cell death; exosomes; ferroptosis.

Publication types

  • Review