The functional roles of exosomal long non-coding RNAs in cancer

  • Man WangEmail author
  • Li Zhou
  • Fei Yu
  • Yinfeng Zhang
  • Peifeng Li
  • Kun WangEmail author


Exosomes are extracellular membranous vesicles that are secreted by various cell types. Exosomes have become indispensable facilitators in the exchange of information between cells. More importantly, exosomes perform a crucial role in a variety of diseases including cancers. Long non-coding RNAs (lncRNAs) are over 200 nucleotides long transcripts that exhibit no or limited protein-coding potentials. LncRNAs are an emerging group of regulatory RNAs and can be selectively packaged into exosomes. Exosomal lncRNAs play a central role in carcinogenesis and cancer progression by modulating tumor growth, metastasis, angiogenesis and chemoresistance. Moreover, exosomal lncRNAs function as messengers in cell-to-cell communication, and thus remodel the tumor microenvironment. Their function relevance in cancer biology hints at the possibility of employing exosomal lncRNAs as promising, non-invasive biomarkers for further cancer therapy. In this review, we provide an overview of current research on the functional roles of exosomal lncRNAs in cancer and discuss their potential clinical applications as diagnostic biomarkers and therapeutic targets for cancers.


Exosomes Extracellular vesicles Exosome biogenesis Long non-coding RNA Cancer pathogenesis Cancer diagnosis Cancer therapy 



This work was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (81701991) and Applied Basic Research Programs of Qingdao, China (17-1-1-59-jch).

Author contributions

MW and KW conceived this article. MW wrote the manuscript. LZ, FY and YZ helped to revise the manuscript. PL and KW did the final editing.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute for Translational MedicineMedical College of Qingdao UniversityQingdaoChina
  2. 2.Animal Biosafety Level III Laboratory at the Center for Animal ExperimentWuhan University School of MedicineWuhanChina

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