Cellular Oncology

, Volume 38, Issue 5, pp 327–339 | Cite as

NF-κB signaling in cancer stem cells: a promising therapeutic target?

  • K. Vazquez-Santillan
  • J. Melendez-Zajgla
  • L. Jimenez-Hernandez
  • G. Martínez-Ruiz
  • V. Maldonado



Cancer stem cells (CSCs) are regulated by several signaling pathways that ultimately control their maintenance and expansion. NF-κB (nuclear factor kappa-light-chain-enhancer of activated B cells) forms a protein complex that controls DNA transcription and, as such, plays an important role in proliferation, inflammation, angiogenesis, invasion and metastasis. The NF-κB signaling pathway, which has been found to be constitutively activated in CSCs from a variety of cancers, participates in the maintenance, expansion, proliferation and survival of CSCs. Targeted disruption of this pathway may profoundly impair the adverse phenotype of CSCs and may provide a therapeutic opportunity to remove the CSC fraction. In particular, it may be attractive to use specific NF-κB inhibitors in chronic therapeutic schemes to reduce disease progression. Exceptional low toxicity profiles of these inhibitors are a prerequisite for use in combined treatment regimens and to avoid resistance.


Although still preliminary, recent evidence shows that such targeted strategies may be useful in adjuvant chemo-preventive settings.


NF-κB signaling Cancer stem cells 



The work at Jorge Melendez-Zajgla laboratory was funded by CONACyT grant 132931.

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no competing interest.


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Copyright information

© International Society for Cellular Oncology 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Epigenetics LaboratoryNational Institute of Genomic MedicineMexico CityMexico
  2. 2.Functional Cancer Genomics laboratoryNational Institute of Genomic MedicineMexico CityMexico

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