Role of exosomes and exosomal microRNAs in hepatocellular carcinoma: Potential in diagnosis and antitumour treatments (Review)
- Jing‑Hua Pan
- Hong Zhou
- Xiao‑Xu Zhao
- Hui Ding
- Wei Li
- Li Qin
- Yun‑Long Pan
Published online on: January 11, 2018
Copyright: © Pan et al.
This is an open access article distributed under the terms of Creative Commons Attribution License.
Communication between hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) cells and their environment is essential for the development and progression of HCC. Exosomes, which are microvesicles secreted by a number of cell types, are carriers of intercellular information and regulate the tumour microenvironment. Studies have demonstrated that exosomes are involved in the communication between HCC cells, endothelial cells and stem cells, and that they serve important roles in the metastasis and invasion, immune evasion and immunotherapy of HCC. In addition, the mechanism of HCC‑derived exosome‑mediated microRNA (miRNA) transfer is important in the environmental modulation of HCC growth and progression. As exosomes can be used for detecting and monitoring HCC, they can potentially serve as specific biomarkers for early‑stage tumours and the tumour metastasis of HCC. Moreover, mesenchymal stem cell‑derived exosomes can be transfected with miRNAs to inhibit HCC development. Therefore, as nucleic acid delivery vehicles, exosomes show a tremendous potential for effective treatment against HCC. In the present review, recent advances in our understanding of the source, composition and function of exosomes in HCC, and their potential value in the early diagnosis and treatment of HCC, are summarized.