Tumor-initiating cells (TICs), or cancer stem cells, constitute highly chemoresistant, asymmetrically dividing, and tumor-initiating populations in cancer and are thought to play a key role in metastatic and chemoresistant disease. Tumor-initiating cells are isolated from cell lines and clinical samples based on features such as sphere formation in stem cell medium and expression of TIC markers, typically a set of outer membrane proteins and certain transcription factors. Although both bulk tumor cells and TICs show an adaptive metabolic plasticity, TIC metabolism is thought to differ and likely in a tumor-specific and growth condition-dependent pattern. In the context of some common solid tumor diseases, we here review reports on how TIC isolation methods and markers associate with metabolic features, with some focus on oxidative metabolism, including fatty acid and lipid metabolism. These have emerged as significant factors in TIC phenotypes, and in tumor biology as a whole. Other sections address mitochondrial biogenesis and dynamics in TICs, and the influence of the tumor microenvironment. Further elucidation of the complex biology of TICs and their metabolism will require advanced methodologies.
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License
which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited