Application of extracellular vesicles in the diagnosis and treatment of prostate cancer: Implications for clinical practice

Crit Rev Oncol Hematol. 2021 Nov;167:103495. doi: 10.1016/j.critrevonc.2021.103495. Epub 2021 Oct 13.


Extracellular vesicles (EV) are cell-derived lipid bilayer-delimited structures providing an important means of intercellular communication. Recent studies have shown that EV, particularly exosomes and large-oncosomes contain miRNA and proteins crucial in prostate cancer (PCa) progression, metastasis and treatment resistance. This includes not just EV released from PCa cells, but also from other cells in the tumor microenvironment. PCa patient derived EV have a unique composition compared to healthy and benign prostatic diseases. As such, EV show promise as diagnostic liquid biopsy biomarkers, both as an adjunct and alternative to the invasive current gold-standard. EV could also be utilized to stratify patients' risk and predict response to hormonal, chemo, immune- and targeted therapy, which will direct future treatment decisions in PCa. We present a summary of the current evidence on the role of EV in PCa and the application of EV in PCa diagnosis and treatment to optimize patient outcomes.

Keywords: Abiraterone; Androgen-deprivation therapy; Biomarker discovery; Cell-cell communication; Chemotherapy; Circulating immune-related biomarker; Docetaxel; Epithelial-mesenchymal transition; Exosomes; Extracellular vesicles; Immune-modulation; Immunotherapy; Large oncosomes; Liquid biopsy; Metastasis; Prostate cancer; Targeted therapy; Tumour microenvironment.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Exosomes*
  • Extracellular Vesicles*
  • Humans
  • Liquid Biopsy
  • Male
  • MicroRNAs*
  • Prostatic Neoplasms* / diagnosis
  • Prostatic Neoplasms* / therapy
  • Tumor Microenvironment


  • MicroRNAs