Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is a primary malignancy of the liver, and currently the second most common cause of cancer-related deaths worldwide with increasing incidence and poor prognosis. Exosomes are now considered as important mediators of host anti-tumor immune response as well as tumor cell immune escape. HCC-derived exosomes have been shown to attenuate the cytotoxicity of T-cells and NK cells, and promote the immuno-suppressive M2 macrophages, N2 neutrophils, and Bregs. These exosomes harbor several immune-related non-coding RNAs and proteins that drive immune-escape and tumor progression, and thus may serve as potential diagnostic biomarkers and therapeutic targets for HCC. In a previous study, we identified miR146a as an exosomal factor that promotes M2-polarization and suppresses the anti-HCC function of T-cells. In this review, we summarized the role of tumor-derived exosomes and their key components in mediating tumor immune escape during HCC development.
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