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Keywords:

  • Cancer stem cells;
  • Angiogenesis;
  • Transdifferentiation;
  • Vasculogenic mimicry;
  • G protein-coupled receptors

Abstract

Cancer stem cells (CSCs), a special subpopulation of tumor cells, are considered as tumor initiating cells. More recently, these cells have also been identified as initiators of tumor neovascularization. A better understanding of the contribution of CSCs to neovascularization should elucidate the mechanisms of cancer initiation and progression as well as establish new concepts for cancer diagnosis and treatment. In this review, we discuss the evidence for the roles of CSCs in tumor vascularization, including production of proangiogenic factors, transdifferentiation into vascular mural cells such as endothelial and smooth muscle-like cells, and formation of nonendothelium-lined vasculogenic mimicry. In addition, the potential therapeutic significance of targeting CSCs is envisaged. STEM CELLS 2011;29:888–894