Systematic Reviews
Copyright ©The Author(s) 2022. Published by Baishideng Publishing Group Inc. All rights reserved.
World J Gastrointest Oncol. Jan 15, 2022; 14(1): 334-347
Published online Jan 15, 2022. doi: 10.4251/wjgo.v14.i1.334
Exosomes as potential diagnosis and treatment for liver cancer
Xiao-Cui Wei, Li-Juan Liu, Fan Zhu
Xiao-Cui Wei, Li-Juan Liu, Fan Zhu, State Key Laboratory of Virology, Hubei Province Key Laboratory of Allergy and Immunology, Department of Pathogenic Biology, School of Medicine, Wuhan University, Wuhan 430071, Hubei Province, China
Author contributions: Wei XC and Liu LJ equally contributed to this manuscript; Wei XC designed the research, drafted and revised the paper; Liu LJ analyzed the data, drafted and revised the paper; Zhu F was responsible for the design, edit, and revision of the article and supervised the manuscript; all authors read and approved the final manuscript.
Supported by National Natural Science Foundation of China, No. 81971943 and No. 81772196; and the Medical Science Advancement Program (Clinical Medicine) of Wuhan University, No. TFLC 2018003.
Conflict-of-interest statement: All authors do not have any conflicts of interest relevant to this article.
PRISMA 2009 Checklist statement: The authors have read the PRISMA 2009 Checklist, and the manuscript was prepared and revised according to the PRISMA 2009 Checklist.
Open-Access: This article is an open-access article that was selected by an in-house editor and fully peer-reviewed by external reviewers. It is distributed in accordance with the Creative Commons Attribution NonCommercial (CC BY-NC 4.0) license, which permits others to distribute, remix, adapt, build upon this work non-commercially, and license their derivative works on different terms, provided the original work is properly cited and the use is non-commercial. See:
Corresponding author: Fan Zhu, PhD, Professor, State Key Laboratory of Virology, Hubei Province Key Laboratory of Allergy and Immunology, Department of Pathogenic Biology, School of Medicine, Wuhan University, No. 185 Donghu Road, Wuhan 430071, Hubei Province, China.
Received: March 22, 2021
Peer-review started: March 22, 2021
First decision: June 14, 2021
Revised: July 3, 2021
Accepted: September 8, 2021
Article in press: September 8, 2021
Published online: January 15, 2022
Research background

Liver cancer is one of the most common malignant tumors with high morbidity and mortality because of lacking early diagnosis and treatment. Exosomes have been a newly discovered cellular communication tool with high biocompatibility, low immunogenicity, and high transport efficiency. They show great potential for cancer diagnosis and therapy.

Research motivation

This review aimed to consolidate the evidence on exosomes as biomarkers for the diagnosis and therapeutics for liver cancer in a systematic fashion.

Research objectives

The main result that the authors are concerned about is discovering the great potential of exosomes in the diagnosis and treatment of liver cancer.

Table 5 Exosomes from dendritic cells as potential therapeutic factors.
Source of exosomes
Animal model (Yes/No)
Clinical sample (Yes/No)
Exosomes plus microwave ablationDCs-exosomesYNInhibit tumor growth and improve the immune microenvironment[70]
Exosomes DCs-exosomesYNElicited strong antigen-specific immune responses and resulted in tumor growth retardation and prolonged survival rates in mice with ectopic[71]
Research methods

A systematic literature search was performed using PubMed and Web of Science. The latest literature was published in June 2021.

Research results

Fifty-eight studies were included in this systematic review. Blood-derived exosomes could be biomarkers or biotherapeutics. Cell-derived exosomes, which were used to explore underlying mechanisms of differentially expressed exosome contents in clinical tissue samples, might serve as potential therapeutic targets for liver cancer. Exosomes might also serve as drug carriers or therapeutic factors.

Research conclusions

Existing studies show that exosomes have great potential for clinical application as potential novel diagnostic and therapeutic markers of liver cancer.

Research perspectives

This present review might be helpful as a reference for clinical research on exosomes in liver cancer.