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BioMed Research International
Volume 2015 (2015), Article ID 634865, 13 pages
Review Article

Breast Cancer-Derived Extracellular Vesicles: Characterization and Contribution to the Metastatic Phenotype

1Comprehensive Community Cancer Center, Roseman University College of Medicine, Las Vegas, NV 89135, USA
2Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, New York, NY 10065, USA

Received 18 April 2015; Revised 24 September 2015; Accepted 4 October 2015

Academic Editor: Anelli Tiziana

Copyright © 2015 Toni M. Green et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


The study of extracellular vesicles (EVs) in cancer progression is a complex and rapidly evolving field. Whole categories of cellular interactions in cancer which were originally presumed to be due solely to soluble secreted molecules have now evolved to include membrane-enclosed extracellular vesicles (EVs), which include both exosomes and shed microvesicles (MVs), and can contain many of the same molecules as those secreted in soluble form but many different molecules as well. EVs released by cancer cells can transfer mRNA, miRNA, and proteins to different recipient cells within the tumor microenvironment, in both an autocrine and paracrine manner, causing a significant impact on signaling pathways, mRNA transcription, and protein expression. The transfer of EVs to target cells, in turn, supports cancer growth, immunosuppression, and metastasis formation. This review focuses exclusively on breast cancer EVs with an emphasis on breast cancer-derived exosomes, keeping in mind that breast cancer-derived EVs share some common physical properties with EVs of other cancers.