Review

Cellular Oncology

, Volume 35, Issue 6, pp 397-409

Interpretation of interlocking key issues of cancer stem cells in malignant solid tumors

  • Wei-hui LiuAffiliated withPLA Center of General Surgery, General Hospital of Chengdu Army RegionDepartment of Hepatobiliary Surgery, Xijing Hospital, Fourth Military Medical University
  • , Nan YouAffiliated withDepartment of Hepatobiliary Surgery, Xijing Hospital, Fourth Military Medical University
  • , Ning ZhangAffiliated withDepartment of Hepatobiliary Surgery, Xijing Hospital, Fourth Military Medical University
  • , Hong-tao YanAffiliated withPLA Center of General Surgery, General Hospital of Chengdu Army Region
  • , Tao WangAffiliated withPLA Center of General Surgery, General Hospital of Chengdu Army Region
  • , Zhu HuangAffiliated withPLA Center of General Surgery, General Hospital of Chengdu Army Region
  • , Hong-bao LiuAffiliated withDepartment of Nephrology, Xijing Hospital, Fourth Military Medical University Email author 
  • , Li-jun TangAffiliated withPLA Center of General Surgery, General Hospital of Chengdu Army Region Email author 

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Abstract

Objective

In this review, several interlinking issues related to cancer stem cells (CSCs) in malignant solid tumors are sequentially discussed.

Methods

A literature search was performed using PubMed, Web of Science and the Cochrane library, combining the words CSCs, solid tumor, isolation, identification, origination, therapy, target and epithelial–mesenchymal transition.

Results

Because a primary problem is the isolation of CSCs, we first analyzed the advantages and disadvantages of recently used methods, which were mostly based on the physical or immunochemical characteristics of CSCs. Once CSCs are isolated, they should be identified by their stem cell properties. Here, we suggest how to establish a standard identification strategy. We also focused on the origination hypotheses of CSCs. The supporting molecular mechanisms for each theory were thoroughly analyzed and integrated. Especially, epithelial– mesenchymal transition is an increasingly recognized mechanism to generate CSCs that are endowed with a more invasive and metastatic phenotype. Finally, we discuss putative strategies of eliminating CSCs as effective cancer therapies.

Conclusion

After several interlocking issues of CSCs are thoroughly clarified, these CSCs in solid malignant tumors may specifically be targeted, which raises a new hope for eliminating these tumors.

Keywords

Cancer stem cells (CSCs) Isolation Identification Origin Therapy Hepatic cancer stem cells (HCSCs)