Research ArticleCancer

Exosomes from bone marrow mesenchymal stem cells contain a microRNA that promotes dormancy in metastatic breast cancer cells

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Science Signaling  01 Jul 2014:
Vol. 7, Issue 332, pp. ra63
DOI: 10.1126/scisignal.2005231

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Promoting Cancer Cell Dormancy with Exosomes

Metastatic disease often develops long after treatment of the primary tumor because of cells that spread into metastatic niches, particularly the bone marrow. Because these “dormant” cells have a slow rate of cell cycling, they are not killed by traditional chemotherapies that target rapidly dividing cells. Ono et al. examined how cells present in the bone marrow niche trigger dormancy of metastatic breast cancer cells. They found that exosomes (vesicles shed by cells) from bone marrow–derived mesenchymal stem cells were taken up by cancer cells, in which they inhibited proliferation and promoted other characteristics associated with dormancy, in part through the delivery of a microRNA that suppressed the expression of a gene encoding a protein that promotes cell proliferation and motility. Thus, the bone marrow niche releases exosomes that deliver signals promoting metastatic cancer cell dormancy.