Exosomes: small vesicles with big roles in hepatocellular carcinoma

Zhitong Wu, Qinghai Zeng, Ke Cao and Yifan Sun _

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Oncotarget. 2016; 7:60687-60697. https://doi.org/10.18632/oncotarget.10807

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Zhitong Wu1, Qinghai Zeng2, Ke Cao3 and Yifan Sun4

1 Department of Clinical Laboratory, Eighth Affiliated Hospital of Guangxi Medical University, Guigang City People’s Hospital, Guigang, Guangxi, China

2 Department of Dermatology, Third Xiangya Hospital, Central South University, Changsha, Hunan, China

3 Department of Oncology, Third Xiangya Hospital, Central South University, Changsha, Hunan, China

4 Department of Clinical Laboratory, Third Affiliated Hospital of Guangxi University of Chinese Medicine, Liuzhou, Guangxi, China

Correspondence to:

Yifan Sun, email:

Ke Cao, email:

Keywords: hepatocellular carcinoma, exosomes, biomarker, function

Received: May 23, 2016 Accepted: July 13, 2016 Published: July 24, 2016


Despite improvements in the diagnosis and treatment of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC), the prognosis is still poor. Pioneering work has demonstrated a potential role for tumour cell-derived exosomes (TEXs) in HCC. TEXs can mediate immune responses, antigen presentation and intracellular communication by serving as vehicles for the transfer of proteins, viruses, lipids and RNA between cells. An improved understanding of the roles played by exosomes could lead to a powerful new strategy for preventing and treating HCC. In this review, we summarise current understanding on the topic. The literature points to two faces of TEXs in HCC: 1) They can promote invasion, metastasis, immune evasion and modulation and 2) they can act as diagnostic and prognostic biomarkers, and can be used in anti-cancer drug resistance and immunotherapy in the future.

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