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Targeting Liver Cancer Stem Cells: An Alternative Therapeutic Approach for Liver Cancer

by Hwa-Yong Lee 1 and In-Sun Hong 2,3,*
1
Department of Biomedical Science, Jungwon University, 85 Goesan-eup, Munmu-ro, Goesan-gun, Chungcheongbuk-do 367700, Korea
2
Department of Health Sciences and Technology, GAIHST, Gachon University, Incheon 21999, Korea
3
Department of Molecular Medicine, School of Medicine, Gachon University, Incheon 406840, Korea
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Cancers 2020, 12(10), 2746; https://doi.org/10.3390/cancers12102746
Received: 15 August 2020 / Revised: 18 September 2020 / Accepted: 22 September 2020 / Published: 24 September 2020
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Stemness and Differentiation in Cancer)
Cancer stem cells (CSCs) are known to be highly resistant to conventional therapeutic approaches, such as chemotherapeutic drugs and radiation. Therefore, selectively targeting CSCs with specific markers or signaling pathways can be an effective therapeutic strategy for treating chemotherapy-resistant liver cancer. However, there is not enough information currently available to make a conclusive statement regarding hepatic CSC-specific signaling pathways and biomarkers. In present study, we provide an overview of the current knowledge on the specific surface markers and critical signaling pathways of hepatic CSC.
The first report of cancer stem cell (CSC) from Bruce et al. has demonstrated the relatively rare population of stem-like cells in acute myeloid leukemia (AML). The discovery of leukemic CSCs prompted further identification of CSCs in multiple types of solid tumor. Recently, extensive research has attempted to identity CSCs in multiple types of solid tumors in the brain, colon, head and neck, liver, and lung. Based on these studies, we hypothesize that the initiation and progression of most malignant tumors rely largely on the CSC population. Recent studies indicated that stem cell-related markers or signaling pathways, such as aldehyde dehydrogenase (ALDH), CD133, epithelial cell adhesion molecule (EpCAM), Wnt/β-catenin signaling, and Notch signaling, contribute to the initiation and progression of various liver cancer types. Importantly, CSCs are markedly resistant to conventional therapeutic approaches and current targeted therapeutics. Therefore, it is believed that selectively targeting specific markers and/or signaling pathways of hepatic CSCs is an effective therapeutic strategy for treating chemotherapy-resistant liver cancer. Here, we provide an overview of the current knowledge on the hepatic CSC hypothesis and discuss the specific surface markers and critical signaling pathways involved in the development and maintenance of hepatic CSC subpopulations. View Full-Text
Keywords: hepatic cancer stem cells; ALDH; CD133; EpCAM; Wnt/β-catenin signaling; notch signaling hepatic cancer stem cells; ALDH; CD133; EpCAM; Wnt/β-catenin signaling; notch signaling
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Lee, H.-Y.; Hong, I.-S. Targeting Liver Cancer Stem Cells: An Alternative Therapeutic Approach for Liver Cancer. Cancers 2020, 12, 2746.

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