Extracellular Vesicles and Their Roles in the Tumor Immune Microenvironment

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Tumor cells actively incorporate molecules (e.g., proteins, lipids, RNA) into particles named extracellular vesicles (EVs). Several groups have demonstrated that EVs can be transferred to target (recipient) cells, making EVs an important means of intercellular communication. Indeed, EVs are able to modulate the functions of target cells by reprogramming signaling pathways. In a cancer context, EVs promote the formation of a supportive tumor microenvironment (TME) and (pre)metastatic niches. Recent studies have revealed that immune cells, tumor cells and their secretome, including EVs, promote changes in the TME and immunosuppressive functions of immune cells (e.g., natural killer, dendritic cells, T and B cells, monocytes, macrophages) that allow tumor cells to establish and propagate. Despite the growing knowledge on EVs and on their roles in cancer and as modulators of the immune response/escape, the translation into clinical practice remains in its early stages, hence requiring improved translational research in the EVs field. Here, we comprehensively review the current knowledge and most recent research on the roles of EVs in tumor immune evasion and immunosuppression in both solid tumors and hematological malignancies. We also highlight the clinical utility of EV-mediated immunosuppression targeting and EV-engineering. Importantly, we discuss the controversial role of EVs in cancer biology, current limitations and future perspectives to further the EV knowledge into clinical practice.

Original languageEnglish
Article number6892
Number of pages30
JournalJournal of Clinical Medicine
Issue number23
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2022


  • cancer
  • engineered EVs
  • extracellular vesicles
  • immune-oncology
  • immunosuppression
  • immunotherapy
  • tumor microenvironment

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