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Normal and Neoplastic Stem Cells

Stem Cells

  1. Axel Schulenburg1,
  2. Brigitte Marian2

Published Online: 15 JUL 2012

DOI: 10.1002/3527600906.mcb.201100020

Reviews in Cell Biology and Molecular Medicine

Reviews in Cell Biology and Molecular Medicine

How to Cite

Schulenburg, A. and Marian, B. 2012. Normal and Neoplastic Stem Cells. Reviews in Cell Biology and Molecular Medicine. .

Author Information

  1. 1

    Medical University of Vienna, Bone Marrow Transplantation Unit, Department of Internal Medicine I, Vienna, Austria

  2. 2

    Medical University of Vienna, Institute for Cancer Research, Department of Internal Medicine I, Vienna, Austria

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 15 JUL 2012


Recent evidence has revealed the presence of neoplastic stem cells in multiple cancers, both solid and hematological. In this chapter, the similarities and differences between normal and neoplastic stem cells are reviewed, and the basic stem cell definition, function and regulatory pathways in both types of stem cell are addressed, using the hematopoietic system and intestinal mucosa as models. The description of neoplastic stem cells focuses on their origin as well as on their role in the development of cancer. Specifically, neoplastic stem cells seem to be involved in epithelial–mesenchymal transition, angiogenesis, and drug resistance.

Consequently, knowledge of neoplastic stem cells has implications for the diagnosis, prognosis and treatment of cancer. Innovative approaches of cancer therapy may therefore involve targeting neoplastic stem cells using specific surface antigens, signaling pathways, and epigenetic regulation. As eradicating neoplastic stem cells while leaving normal stem cells intact may be difficult, a combination of strategies to mitigate stem cell properties with conventional therapy has shown much promise.


  • Normal stem cell;
  • Neoplastic stem cell;
  • Self-renewal;
  • Regulatory network;
  • Targeting