Stem Cells and Liver Cancer

  • Stewart Sell
Part of the Molecular Pathology Library book series (MPLB, volume 5)


The topic of cancer stem cells and the liver has two major questions. First, do liver cancers contain stem cells? Second, do liver cancers arise from stem cells? Liver cancers contain the same cell populations as normal liver: stem cells, transit-amplifying cells, and terminally differentiated cells. The stem cells of cancers are defined by three properties: immortality, transplantability, and resistance to therapy. Studies done over 50 years ago clearly showed that liver cancers clearly contain cells with these properties. In the last 10 years attempts have been made to identify cancer stem cells using markers and correlating the expression of such markers with the three properties of cancer stem cells. Markers for liver cancer stem cells (LCSC) have been proposed, but these do not definitively identify LCSC. The cell of origin of liver cancer has also been the subject of some controversy. The recognition of the appearance of so-called pre-neoplastic nodules in the liver during experimental induction of liver cancer by chemicals was used as evidence that liver cancer arose by de-differentiation of mature liver cells. On the other hand, the presence of small “oval” cells in the carcinogenic process led to a new hypothesis that hepatocellular carcinoma arises by maturation arrest of liver stem cells. The latter hypothesis is consistent with the hierarchical model of cancer, as proposed for other cancers.


Liver Cancer Cancer Stem Cell Oval Cell Side Population Side Population Cell 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Molecular Medicine, Wadsworth CenterOrdway Research Institute and University at AlbanyAlbanyUSA

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