The emerging roles of tumor-derived exosomes in hematological malignancies

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Exosomes are small (30-150 nm) membranous vesicles of endocytic origin produced by all cells under physiological and pathological conditions. They have recently emerged as vehicles for intercellular transfer of molecular and genetic contents from parent to recipient cells. Exosome-mediated transfer of proteins or genes (RNA, miRNA, DNA) results in reprogramming of recipient cell functions. Exosomes carry and deliver information that is essential for health, and they participate in pathological events, including malignant transformation. Within the hematopoietic system, exosomes maintain crosstalk between cells located in the bone marrow compartment and at distant tissue sites. In hematological malignancies, tumor-derived exosomes (TEX) reprogram the bone marrow environment, suppress anti-leukemia immunity, mediate drug resistance and interfere with immunotherapies. TEX are also viewed as promising biomarkers of malignant progression and as potential therapeutic targets. The involvement of TEX in nearly all aspects of malignant transformation has generated much interest in their biology, mechanisms responsible for information transfer and the role they play in cancer escape from the host immune system.

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