Extracellular vesicles as a source of prostate cancer biomarkers in liquid biopsies: a decade of research

Br J Cancer. 2021 Nov 22. doi: 10.1038/s41416-021-01610-8. Online ahead of print.


Prostate cancer is a global cancer burden and considerable effort has been made through the years to identify biomarkers for the disease. Approximately a decade ago, the potential of analysing extracellular vesicles in liquid biopsies started to be envisaged. This was the beginning of a new exciting area of research investigating the rich molecular treasure found in extracellular vesicles to identify biomarkers for a variety of diseases. Vesicles released from prostate cancer cells and cells of the tumour microenvironment carry molecular information about the disease that can be analysed in several biological fluids. Numerous studies document the interest of researchers in this field of research. However, methodological issues such as the isolation of vesicles have been challenging. Remarkably, novel technologies, including those based on nanotechnology, show promise for the further development and clinical use of extracellular vesicles as liquid biomarkers. Development of biomarkers is a long and complicated process, and there are still not many biomarkers based on extracellular vesicles in clinical use. However, the knowledge acquired during the last decade constitutes a solid basis for the future development of liquid biopsy tests for prostate cancer. These are urgently needed to bring prostate cancer treatment to the next level in precision medicine.

Publication types

  • Review