Table of Contents Author Guidelines Submit a Manuscript
BioMed Research International
Volume 2015, Article ID 649161, 8 pages
Review Article

The Role of Extracellular Vesicles: An Epigenetic View of the Cancer Microenvironment

1Department of Neurosurgery, Ren Ji Hospital, School of Medicine, Shanghai Jiao Tong University, Shanghai, China
2Department of Medical Oncology, Sir Run Run Shaw Hospital, School of Medicine, Zhejiang University, Hangzhou, Zhejiang, China
3Department of Neurosurgery, Nanjing Brain Hospital, Nanjing Medical University, No. 264, Guangzhou Road, Nanjing, Jiangsu 210000, China

Received 17 April 2015; Revised 14 July 2015; Accepted 21 July 2015

Academic Editor: Riccardo Alessandro

Copyright © 2015 Zhongrun Qian 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.


Exosomes, microvesicles, and other extracellular vesicles are released by many cell types, including cancer cells and cancer-related immune cells. Extracellular vesicles can directly or indirectly facilitate the transfer of bioinformation to recipient cells or to the extracellular environment. In cancer, exosomes have been implicated in tumor initiation, proliferation, and metastasis. Extracellular vesicles can transmit proteins and nucleic acids that participate in DNA methylation, histone modification, and posttranscriptional regulation of RNA. Factors transmitted by extracellular vesicles reflect the donor cell status, and extracellular vesicles derived from tumor cells may be also responsible for altering expression of tumor promoting and tumor suppressing genes in recipient cells. Thus, circulating extracellular vesicles may act as biomarkers of cancer, and detection of these biomarkers may be applied to diagnosis or assessment of prognosis in patients with cancer.