Stem-like plasticity and heterogeneity of circulating tumor cells: current status and prospect challenges in liver cancer

Margherita Correnti and Chiara Raggi _

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Oncotarget. 2017; 8:7094-7115. https://doi.org/10.18632/oncotarget.12569

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Margherita Correnti1 and Chiara Raggi1

1 Center for Autoimmune Liver Diseases, Humanitas Clinical and Research Center, Rozzano, Italy

Correspondence to:

Chiara Raggi, email:

Keywords: circulating tumor cells, primary liver cancer, cancer stem cells

Received: August 20, 2016 Accepted: October 04, 2016 Published: October 11, 2016


Poor prognosis and high recurrence remain leading causes of primary liver cancer–associated mortality. The spread of circulating tumor cells (CTCs) in the blood plays a major role in the initiation of metastasis and tumor recurrence after surgery. Nevertheless, only a subset of CTCs can survive, migrate to distant sites and establish secondary tumors. Consistent with cancer stem cell (CSC) hypothesis, stem-like CTCs might represent a potential source for cancer relapse and distant metastasis. Thus, identification of stem-like metastasis-initiating CTC-subset may provide useful clinically prognostic information. This review will emphasize the most relevant findings of CTCs in the context of stem-like biology associated to liver carcinogenesis. In this view, the emerging field of stem-like CTCs may deliver substantial contribution in liver cancer field in order to move to personalized approaches for diagnosis, prognosis and therapy.

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