Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is a typical hyper-vascular tumor, so the understanding the mechanisms of angiogenesis in HCC is very important for its treatment. However, the influence of the exosomes secreted from HCC cells (HCC-exosomes) on angiogenesis remains poorly understood. We herein examined the effects of the exosomes secreted from HepG2 cells (HepG2-exosomes) on the lumen formation of human umbilical vein endothelial cells (HUVECs) by the imaging of angiogenesis. The degree of lumen formation of HUVECs was dependent on the number of HepG2-exosomes. The HepG2-exosomes expressed NKG2D, an activating receptor for immune cells, and HSP70, a stress-induced heat shock protein associated with angiogenesis through the vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) receptor. In addition, the HepG2-exosomes contained several microRNAs (miRNAs) reported to exist in the serum of HCC patients. These results suggest that the HCC-exosomes play an important role in angiogenesis. Further studies on the function of HCC-exosomes may provide a new target for HCC treatment.
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