The discovery that tumor-derived proteins and nucleic acids can be detected in nano-sized vesicles in the plasma and cerebrospinal fluid of patients afflicted with brain tumors has expanded opportunities for biomarker and therapeutic discovery. Through delivery of their contents to surrounding cells, exosomes, microvesicles, and other nano-sized extracellular vesicles secreted by tumors modulate their environment to promote tumor growth and survival. In this review, we discuss the biological processes mediated by these extracellular vesicles and their applications in terms of brain tumor diagnosis, monitoring, and therapy. We review the normal physiology of these extracellular vesicles, their pertinence to tumor biology, and directions for research in this field.
ABBREVIATIONS: AMPA, α-amino-3-hydroxy-5-methyl-4-isoxazole-propionic acid
EGFR, epidermal growth factor receptor
EGFRvIII, epidermal growth factor receptor variant III
EV, extracellular vesicle
GPCR, G-protein coupled receptor
MMP, matrix-degrading metalloproteinase
RVG, rabies viral glycoprotein