Breast Cancer Stem Cells and the Immune System: Promotion, Evasion and Therapy

  • Sarah T. Boyle
  • Marina Kochetkova


Cancer stem cells are believed to be a subset of heterogeneous tumour cells responsible for tumour initiation, growth, local invasion, and metastasis. In breast cancer, numerous factors have been implicated in regulation of cancer stem cells, but there is still a paucity of information regarding precise molecular and cellular mechanisms guiding their pathobiology. Components of both the adaptive and the innate immune system have been shown to play a crucial role in supporting breast cancer growth and spread, and recently some immune mediators, both molecules and cells, have been reported to influence breast cancer stem cell biology. This review summarises a small, pioneering body of evidence for the potentially important function of the “immuniche” in maintaining and supporting breast cancer stem cells.


Breast cancer Cancer stem cells Immune system Chemokine Cytokine Immunotherapy 



Aldehyde dehydrogenase 1


Breast cancer stem cell


Cancer-associated fibroblast


C-C chemokine ligand


C-C chemokine receptor


Cancer stem cell


C-X-C chemokine ligand


C-X-C chemokine receptor


Epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition






Mammosphere-forming efficiency


Mouse mammary tumour virus


Mesenchymal stem cell


Polyoma middle T antigen


Receptor activator of NFκB


Receptor activator of NFκB ligand


Tumour-associated macrophage


Transforming growth factor β



We thank Miss Michelle Turvey for critical reading of the manuscript. Work by S. T. Boyle and M. Kochetkova is supported by a grant from the National Health and Medical Research Council and the Australian Postgraduate Award.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Molecular and Biomedical ScienceUniversity of AdelaideAdelaideAustralia

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