Cancer as an infective disease: the role of EVs in tumorigenesis

Mol Oncol. 2022 Sep 27. doi: 10.1002/1878-0261.13316. Online ahead of print.


Cancer is conventionally considered an evolutionary disease where tumor cells adapt to the environment and evolve eventually leading to the formation of metastasis through the seeding and growth of metastasis-initiating cells in distant organs. Tumor cell and tumor-stroma communication via soluble factors and extracellular vesicles (EVs) are essential for the success of the metastatic process. As the field of EVs advances, growing data support the role of tumor-derived EVs not only in modifying the microenvironment to facilitate tumor progression but also in inducing changes in cells outside the primary tumor that may lead to a malignant transformation. Thus, an alternative hypothesis has emerged suggesting the conceptualization of cancer as an 'infective' disease. Still, tackling EVs as a possible cancer treatment has not been widely explored. A major understanding is needed to unveil possible additional contributions of EVs in progression and metastasis, which may be essential for the development of novel approaches to treat cancer patients. Here, we review the contribution of EVs to cancer progression and the possible implication of these factors in the oncogenic transformation of indolent cells.

Keywords: cancer; extracellular vesicles; metastasis; oncogenic transformation.

Publication types

  • Review