Targeting cancer stem cells in hepatocellular carcinoma
Aiwu Ruth He,1 Daniel C Smith,1 Lopa Mishra2
1Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center, Georgetown University, Washington, DC, 2Department of Gastroenterology, Hepatology, and Nutrition, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, TX, USA
Abstract: The poor outcome of patients with hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is attributed to recurrence of the disease after curative treatment and the resistance of HCC cells to conventional chemotherapy, which may be explained partly by the function of liver cancer stem cells (CSCs). Liver CSCs have emerged as an important therapeutic target against HCC. Numerous surface markers for liver CSCs have been identified, and include CD133, CD90, CD44, CD13, and epithelial cell adhesion molecules. These surface markers serve not only as tools for identifying and isolating liver CSCs but also as therapeutic targets for eradicating these cells. In studies of animal models and large-scale genomic analyses of human HCC samples, many signaling pathways observed in normal stem cells have been found to be altered in liver CSCs, which accounts for the stemness and aggressive behavior of these cells. Antibodies and small molecule inhibitors targeting the signaling pathways have been evaluated at different levels of preclinical and clinical development. Another strategy is to promote the differentiation of liver CSCs to less aggressive HCC that is sensitive to conventional chemotherapy. Disruption of the tumor niche essential for liver CSC homeostasis has become a novel strategy in cancer treatment. To overcome the challenges in developing treatment for liver CSCs, more research into the genetic makeup of patient tumors that respond to treatment may lead to more effective therapy. Standardization of HCC CSC tumor markers would be helpful for measuring the CSC response to these agents. Herein, we review the current strategies for developing treatment to eradicate liver CSCs and to improve the outcome for patients with HCC.
Keywords: cancer stem cell, therapeutic targets, surface maker, signaling pathways, transforming growth factor beta
This work is published and licensed by Dove Medical Press Limited. The full terms of this license are available at https://www.dovepress.com/terms.php and incorporate the Creative Commons Attribution - Non Commercial (unported, v3.0) License. By accessing the work you hereby accept the Terms. Non-commercial uses of the work are permitted without any further permission from Dove Medical Press Limited, provided the work is properly attributed. For permission for commercial use of this work, please see paragraphs 4.2 and 5 of our Terms.Download Article [PDF] View Full Text [HTML][Machine readable]