Cellular and Molecular Biology




Relationships between stem cells and cancer stem cells

D.L. Crowe1, B. Parsa2 and U.K. Sinha2

1Center for Craniofacial Molecular Biology, and 2Department of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery, Keck School of Medicine, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA, USA

Offprint requests to: Dr. David. L. Crowe, Center for Craniofacial Molecular Biology, Keck School of Medicine, University of Southern California, 2250 Alcazar Street, Los Angeles, CA 90033, USA. Fax: 323-442-2981. e-mail: dcrowe@usc.edu


Summary. Stem cells have been shown to exist in a variety of tissues. Recent studies have characterized stem cell gene expression patterns, phenotypes, and potential therapeutic uses. One of the most important properties of stem cells is that of self renewal. This raises the possibility that some of the clinical properties of human tumors may be due to transformed stem cells. Similar signaling pathways may regulate self renewal in normal and transformed stem cells. These rare transformed stem cells may drive the process of tumorigenesis due to their potential for self renewal. There are important ramifications for clinical cancer treatment if the growth of solid tumors is at least partially dependent on a cancer stem cell population. In the cancer stem cell model, tumor recurrence may be due to the non-targeted stem cell compartment repopulating the tumor. If cancer stem cells can be prospectively identified and isolated, it should be possible to identify therapies that will selectively target these cells. Histol. Histopathol. 19, 505-519 (2004)

Key words: Embryogenesis, Plasticity, Transformation, Tumorigenesis, Cell lineage

DOI: 10.14670/HH-19.505