Stemness and plasticity of lung cancer cells: paving the road for better therapy
Judong Luo,1,2,* Xifa Zhou,1,* Juan Sebastian Yakisich3
1Changzhou Tumor Hospital, Soochow University, Changzhou, 2School of Radiation Medicine and Protection, Jiangsu Provincial Key Laboratory of Radiation Medicine and Protection, Soochow University, Suzhou, People's Republic of China; 3Department of Clinical Neuroscience, Karolinska University Hospital Stockholm, Sweden
*These authors contributed equally to this work.
Abstract: Lung cancer is a devastating disease that is responsible for around 160,000 deaths each year in United States. The discovery that lung cancer, like most other solid tumors, contains a subpopulation of cancer stem cells or cancer stem-like cells (CSCs/CS-LCs) that if eliminated could lead to a cure has brought new hope. However, the exact nature of the putative lung CSCs/CS-LCs is not known and therefore therapies to eliminate this subpopulation have been elusive. A limited knowledge and understanding of cancer stem cell properties and tumor biology may be responsible for the limited clinical success. In this review we discuss the stemness and plasticity properties of lung cancer cells that are critical aspects in terms of developing effective therapies. We suggest that the available experimental evidence obtained from lung cancer cell lines and patients' derived primary cultures does not support a tumor model consistent with the classical CSC model. Instead, all lung cancer cells may be extremely versatile and new models of cancer stem cells may be better working models.
Keywords: cancer stem cells, chemotherapy, interconversion, plasticity, phenotype