The Role of Exo-miRNAs in Cancer: A Focus on Therapeutic and Diagnostic Applications

Francesco Ingenito, Giuseppina Roscigno, Alessandra Affnito, Silvia Nuzzo, Iolanda Scognamiglio, Cristina Quintavalle, Gerolama Condorelli

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Exosomes are extracellular vesicles released into biological fluids where they act as carriers of various molecules, including proteins, lipids, and RNAs, between cells, modulating or perturbing specific physiological processes. Recently, it has been suggested that tumoral cells release excessive amounts of exosomes that, through their cargo, promote tumor progression, stimulating growth, angiogenesis, metastasis, insensitivity to chemotherapy, and immune evasion. Increasing evidence highlights exosomal microRNAs (exo-miRNAs) as important players in tumorigenesis. MicroRNA (miRNA) are a class of small non-coding RNA able to regulate gene expression, targeting multiple mRNAs and inducing translational repression and/or mRNA degradation. Exo-miRNAs are highly stable and easily detectable in biological fluids, and for these reasons, miRNAs are potential cancer biomarkers useful diagnostically and prognostically. Furthermore, since exosomes are natural delivery systems between cells, they can be appropriately modified to carry therapeutic miRNAs to specific recipient cells. Here we summarize the main functions of exo-miRNAs and their possible role for diagnostic and therapeutic applications.

Original languageEnglish
Article number4687
JournalInternational Journal of Molecular Sciences
Issue number19
Publication statusPublished - Oct 1 2019


  • Brain tumors
  • Cancer diagnosis
  • Cancer therapy
  • Exosome
  • MicroRNA
  • Tumor microenvironment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Catalysis
  • Molecular Biology
  • Spectroscopy
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
  • Organic Chemistry
  • Inorganic Chemistry


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