The emerging role of exosomes in radiotherapy

Cell Commun Signal. 2022 Oct 31;20(1):171. doi: 10.1186/s12964-022-00986-1.


Presently, more than half of cancer patients receive radiotherapy to cure localized cancer, palliate symptoms, or control the progression of cancer. However, radioresistance and radiation-induced bystander effects (RIBEs) are still challenging problems in cancer treatment. Exosomes, as a kind of extracellular vesicle, have a significant function in mediating and regulating intercellular signaling pathways. An increasing number of studies have shown that radiotherapy can increase exosome secretion and alter exosome cargo. Furthermore, radiation-induced exosomes are involved in the mechanism of radioresistance and RIBEs. Therefore, exosomes hold great promise for clinical application in radiotherapy. In this review, we not only focus on the influence of radiation on exosome biogenesis, secretion and cargoes but also on the mechanism of radiation-induced exosomes in radioresistance and RIBEs, which may expand our insight into the cooperative function of exosomes in radiotherapy. Video abstract.

Keywords: Bystander effect; Exosomes; Radioresistance; Radiotherapy.

Publication types

  • Video-Audio Media
  • Review
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Bystander Effect
  • Cell Communication
  • Exosomes* / metabolism
  • Extracellular Vesicles* / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Neoplasms* / metabolism
  • Neoplasms* / radiotherapy
  • Signal Transduction