Posted: 2021-10-13 19:00:00
Tumor burden is a complex microenvironment where different cell populations coexist and have intense cross-talk. Among them, a heterogeneous population of tumor cells with staminal features are grouped under the definition of cancer stem cells (CSCs). CSCs are also considered responsible for tumor progression, drug resistance, and disease relapse. Furthermore, CSCs secrete a wide variety of extracellular vesicles (EVs) with different cargos, including proteins, lipids, ssDNA, dsDNA, mRNA, siRNA, or miRNA. EVs are internalized by other cells, orienting the microenvironment toward a protumorigenic and prometastatic one. Given their importance in tumor growth and metastasis, EVs could be exploited as a new therapeutic target. The inhibition of biogenesis, release, or uptake of EVs could represent an efficacious strategy to impair the cross-talk between CSCs and other cells present in the tumor microenvironment. Moreover, natural or synthetic EVs could represent suitable carriers for drugs or bioactive molecules to target specific cell populations, including CSCs. This review will discuss the role of CSCs and EVs in tumor growth, progression, and metastasis and how they affect drug resistance and disease relapse. Furthermore, we will analyze the potential role of EVs as a target or vehicle of new therapies. Keywords: CSC targeting; cancer stem cells; drug resistance; extracellular vesicles; immunosuppression; metastasis; tumor microenvironment.
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