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BioMed Research International
Volume 2017, Article ID 2931813, 8 pages
Review Article

Functional Roles and Therapeutic Applications of Exosomes in Hepatocellular Carcinoma

1National Institute for Infectious Diseases L. Spallanzani, IRCCS, Rome, Italy
2Istituto Pasteur-Fondazione Cenci Bolognetti, Department of Cellular Biotechnologies and Haematology, Sapienza University of Rome, Rome, Italy

Correspondence should be addressed to Carla Cicchini; ti.1amorinu.ecb@inihccic

Received 9 October 2016; Revised 15 December 2016; Accepted 4 January 2017; Published 7 February 2017

Academic Editor: Gagan Deep

Copyright © 2017 Laura Santangelo 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 are important in intercellular communication. They assure the horizontal transfer of specific functional contents (i.e., proteins, lipids, RNA molecules, and circulating DNA) from donor to recipient cells. Notably, tumor-derived exosomes (TDEs) appear to be an important vehicle of specific signals in cancer, impacting on tumor growth and metastasis. Recent researches point to the characterization of exosomes in Hepatocellular Carcinoma (HCC), the major adult liver malignancy. In this review, we summarize current findings on HCC exosomes, focusing on the identification of noncoding RNAs as exosome-enriched functional regulators and new potential biomarkers. The great potential of exosomes in future HCC diagnostic and therapeutic approaches is underlined.