The therapeutic potential of immune cell-derived exosomes as an alternative to adoptive cell transfer

Yeonsun Hong, In San Kim

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


Adoptive cell transfer (ACT), a form of cell-based immunotherapy that eliminates cancer by restoring and strengthening the body’s immune system, has revolutionized cancer treatment. ACT entails intravenous transfer of either tumor-resident or peripheral blood-modified immune cells into cancer patients to mediate anti-tumor response. Although these immune cells control and eradicate cancer via enhanced cytotoxicity against specific tumor antigens, several side effects have been frequently reported in clinical trials. Recently, exosomes, potential cellfree therapeutics, have emerged as an alternative to cell-based immunotherapies, due to their higher stability under same storage condition, lower risk of GvHD and CRS, and higher resistance to immunosuppressive tumor microenvironment. Exosomes, which are nano-sized lipid vesicles, are secreted by living cells, including immune cells. Exosomes contain proteins, lipids, and nucleic acids, and the functional role of each exosome is determined by the specific cargo derived from parental cells. Exosomes derived from cytotoxic effectors including T cells and NK cells exert anti-tumor effects via proteins such as granzyme B and FasL. In this mini-review, we describe the current understanding of the ACT and immune cell-derived exosomes and discuss the limitations of ACT and the opportunities for immune cell-derived exosomes as immune therapies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)39-47
Number of pages9
JournalBMB reports
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2022


  • Adoptive cell transfer
  • Cancer
  • Exosome
  • Immune cell
  • Immunotherapy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology


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