Role of cell-free network communication in alcohol-associated disorders and liver metastasis

Murali R. Kuracha, Peter Thomas, Martin Tobi, Benita L. McVicker

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


The aberrant use of alcohol is a major factor in cancer progression and metastasis. Contributing mechanisms include the systemic effects of alcohol and the exchange of bioactive molecules between cancerous and non-cancerous cells along the brain-gut-liver axis. Such interplay leads to changes in molecular, cellular, and biological functions resulting in cancer progression. Recent investigations have examined the role of extracellular vesicles (EVs) in cancer mechanisms in addition to their contribution as diagnostic biomarkers. Also, EVs are emerging as novel cell-free mediators in pathophysiological scenarios including alcohol-mediated gut microbiome dysbiosis and the release of nanosized EVs into the circulatory system. Interestingly, EVs in cancer patients are enriched with oncogenes, miRNA, lipids, and glycoproteins whose delivery into the hepatic microenvironment may be enhanced by the detrimental effects of alcohol. Proof-of-concept studies indicate that alcohol-associated liver disease is impacted by the effects of exosomes, including altered immune responses, reprogramming of stromal cells, and remodeling of the extracellular matrix. Moreover, the culmination of alcoholrelated changes in the liver likely contributes to enhanced hepatic metastases and poor outcomes for cancer patients. This review summarizes the numerous aspects of exosome communications between organs with emphasis on the relationship of EVs in alcohol-associated diseases and cancer metastasis. The potential impact of EV cargo and release along a multi-organ axis is highly relevant to the promotion of tumorigenic mechanisms and metastatic disease. It is hypothesized that EVs target recipient tissues to initiate the formation of prometastatic niches and cancer progression. The study of alcohol-associated mechanisms in metastatic cancers is expected to reveal a better understanding of factors involved in the growth of secondary malignancies as well as novel approaches for therapeutic interventions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)7080-7099
Number of pages20
JournalWorld Journal of Gastroenterology
Issue number41
StatePublished - Nov 7 2021


  • Alcohol-associated liver disease
  • Colorectal cancer
  • Exosomes
  • Extracellular vesicles
  • Interorgan communication
  • Liver metastasis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Gastroenterology


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