, Volume 31, Issue 3-4, pp 733-751
Date: 01 Jul 2012

Cancer stem cells, microRNAs, and therapeutic strategies including natural products

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Embryonic stem cells divide continuously and differentiate into organs through the expression of specific transcription factors at specific time periods. Differentiated adult stem cells on the other hand remain in quiescent state and divide by receiving cues from the environment (extracellular matrix or niche), as in the case of wound healing from tissue injury or inflammation. Similarly, it is believed that cancer stem cells (CSCs), forming a smaller fraction of the tumor bulk, also remain in a quiescent state. These cells are capable of initiating and propagating neoplastic growth upon receiving environmental cues, such as overexpression of growth factors, cytokines, and chemokines. Candidate CSCs express distinct biomarkers that can be utilized for their identification and isolation. This review focuses on the known and candidate cancer stem cell markers identified in various solid tumors and the promising future of disease management and therapy targeted at these markers. The review also provides details on the differential expression of microRNAs (miRNAs), and the miRNA- and natural product-based therapies that could be applied for the treatment of cancer stem cells.

Marilene B. Wang, Raj K. Batra, and Eri S. Srivatsan are members of Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center, UCLA, Los Angeles, CA 90073