It is clear that exosomes (endosome derived vesicles) serve important roles in cellular communication both locally and distally and that the exosomal process is abnormal in cancer. Cancer cells are not malicious cells; they are cells that represent ‘survival of the fittest’ at its finest. All of the mutations, abnormalities, and phenomenal adaptations to a hostile microenvironment, such as hypoxia and nutrient depletion, represent the astute ability of cancer cells to adapt to their environment and to intracellular changes to achieve a single goal – survival. The aberrant exosomal process in cancer represents yet another adaptation that promotes survival of cancer. Cancer cells can secrete more exosomes than healthy cells, but more importantly, the content of cancer cells is distinct. An illustrative distinction is that exosomes derived from cancer cells contain more microRNA than healthy cells and unlike exosomes released from healthy cells, this microRNA can be associated with the RNA-induced silencing complex (RISC) which is required for processing mature and biologically active microRNA. Cancer derived exosomes have the ability to transfer metastatic potential to a recipient cell and cancer exosomes function in the physical process of invasion.
Exosome mediated communication within the tumor microenvironment
Milane L, Singh A, Mattheolabakis G, Suresh M, Amiji MM. (2015) Exosome mediated communication within the tumor microenvironment. J Control Release [Epub ahead of print]. [abstract]