Exosomes are the smallest of the cell-secreted extracellular structures, about 30-100nm in diameter (Wu et al., 2017). Exosomes constitute a bilayer, which encloses the cytosol as well as other contents (Inamdar, Nitiyanandan, & Rege, 2017). In present years, exosomes have attracted the attention of scientists, especially their role in cancer, which is a product of their critical property in intercellular communication.

Physiological Role for Exosomes

It was not until recently that research determined the role of exosomes in intercellular communication, thus confirming their role in modulating various processes that occur in the cell (Lou et al., 2017). As the vehicles for intercellular communication, exosomes play a fundamental role in the conveyance of lipids, biologically active proteins, and RNA’s from one part of the cell to another (Wu et al., 2017). It is this physiological role that is critical in cancer, as the section below confirms.

Role of Stem-Cell Derived Exosomes in Cancer

Recall that exosomes play a critical role in cell communication, including mediation of genetic information. Stem cell derived exosomes play crucial roles in cancer as identified in the following topics.

Role in Tumor Growth

Exosomes derived from stem cells have been shown to propagate genetic regulatory information to the target cells (Wu et al., 2017). The genetic information, in turn, mediates cell growth, as a result of regulating cellular pathways (Wu et al., 2017). Additionally, cancer stem cell derived exosomes instigate tumor growth, with the example of human gliomas, which as noted by Wu et al. (2017), support tumors.


Role in Tumor Angiogenesis

Exosomes, as noted by Wu et al. (2017), constitute angiogenic factors, which control tumor angiogenesis. Exosomes derived from stem cells facilitate tumor angiogenesis in tumor cells by increasing the expression of VEGF as well as with the activation of ERK1/2 and p38 mitogen activated pathways (Wu et al., 2017).

Role in Tumor Metastases

MSC-derived exosomes have also been linked to tumor invasion, as well as metastasis (Wu et al., 2017). These exosomes also promulgate the transition from epithelial to mesenchymal stem-like properties, which allows cancer cells to increase their chances of survival in circulation (Wu et al., 2017).

Role in Tumor Therapy

Studies have shown that MSC-derived exosomes are useful in personalized medicine (Wu et al., 2017). The MSC-derived exosomes can not only be employed in regenerative medicine but can also find use in therapies that are aimed at combating cancer (Wu et al., 2017).

Role in Tumor Biomarkers

MSC-derived exosomes provide critical biomarker sources, given that they constitute bioactive components (Wu et al., 2017). Studies have confirmed the MSC’s ability to reverse the chemoresistance of the cells dubbed glioblastoma multiforme, thus proving their role in anticancer therapy (Wu et al., 2017).


The study on MSC-derived exosomes confirms the fact these micro structures are critical in unveiling significant oncology strides. The above roles of the MSC-derived stem cells drawn from studies prove the scientific advancement in cancer therapy and provide a future for cancer treatment.


Inamdar, S., Nitiyanandan, R., & Rege, K. (2017). Emerging Applications of Exosomes in Cancer Therapeutics and Diagnostics. Bioengineering & Translational Medicine.

Lou, G., Chen, Z., Zheng, M., & Liu, Y. (2017). Mesenchymal Stem Cell-derived Exosomes as a New Therapeutic Strategy for Liver Diseases. Experimental & Molecular Medicine49(6), e346.

Wu, J., Qu, Z., Fei, Z. W., Wu, J. H., & Jiang, C. P. (2017). Role of Stem Cell-derived Exosomes in cancer. Oncology Letters13(5), 2855-2866.

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