The hitchhikers guide to cancer stem cell theory: Markers, pathways and therapy

Authors

  • Ákos Fábián,

    1. Department of Biophysics and Cell Biology, Medical and Health Science Center, University of Debrecen, Hungary
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  • György Vereb,

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Biophysics and Cell Biology, Medical and Health Science Center, University of Debrecen, Hungary
    2. MTA-DE Cell Biology and Signaling Research Group, Medical and Health Science Center, University of Debrecen, Hungary
    • Department of Biophysics and Cell Biology, Medical and Health Science Center, University of Debrecen, P.O. Box 39, Nagyerdei krt. 98, H-4012 Debrecenm Hungary
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  • János Szöllősi

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Biophysics and Cell Biology, Medical and Health Science Center, University of Debrecen, Hungary
    2. MTA-DE Cell Biology and Signaling Research Group, Medical and Health Science Center, University of Debrecen, Hungary
    • Department of Biophysics and Cell Biology, Medical and Health Science Center, University of Debrecen, P.O. Box 39, Nagyerdei krt. 98, H-4012 Debrecenm Hungary
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Abstract

Cancer stem cell (CSC) biology is a rapidly developing field within cancer research. CSCs are postulated to be a unique cell population exclusively capable of infinite self renewal, multilineage differentiation and with ability to evade conventional cytotoxic cancer therapy. These traits distinguish CSCs from their more differentiated counterparts, which possess only limited or no potential for self renewal and tumor initiation. Therefore, CSCs would be the driving motor of malignant growth and therapy resistance. Accordingly, successful cancer treatment would need to eliminate this highly potent group of cells, since even small residual numbers would suffice to recapitulate the disease after therapy. Putative CSCs has been identified in a broad range of human malignancies and several cell surface markers have been associated with their stem cell phenotype. Despite all efforts, a pure CSC population has not been isolated and often in vitro clonogenic and in vivo tumorigenic potential is found in several cell populations with occasionally contradictory surface marker signatures. Here, we give a brief overview of recent advances in CSC theory, including the signaling pathways in CSCs that also appear crucial for stem cells homeostasis in normal tissues. We discuss evidence for the interaction of CSCs with the stromal tumor environment. Finally, we review the emerging potentially effective CSC-targeted treatment strategies and their future role in therapy. © 2012 International Society for Advancement of Cytometry

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