Bladder cancer stem cells: clonal origin and therapeutic perspectives

Yi Li _, Kaisu Lin, Zhao Yang, Ning Han, Xiaofang Quan, Xiangyang Guo and Chong Li

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Oncotarget. 2017; 8:66668-66679. https://doi.org/10.18632/oncotarget.19112

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Yi Li1,*, Kaisu Lin2,*, Zhao Yang3, Ning Han4, Xiaofang Quan3, Xiangyang Guo1 and Chong Li3,5

1 Department of Anesthesiology, Peking University Third Hospital, Beijing, China

2 Department of Oncology, the Affiliated Aoyang Hospital of Jiangsu University, Zhangjiagang, China

3 Core Facility for Protein Research, Institute of Biophysics, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, China

4 Department of Life Science and Technology, China Pharmaceutical University, Nanjing, China

5 Beijing Jianlan Institute of Medicine, Beijing, China

* These authors have contributed equally and are joint first authors

Correspondence to:

Chong Li, email:

Xiangyang Guo, email:

Keywords: bladder cancer, cancer stem cell, BCSCs

Received: February 14, 2017 Accepted: June 17, 2017 Published: July 08, 2017


In this article, we review the origin and therapeutic perspectives of bladder cancer stem cells (BCSCs), which are integral to the initiation, high recurrence and chemoresistance of bladder cancer. BCSCs are heterogenous and originate from multiple cell types, including urothelial stem cells and differentiated cell types, including basal, intermediate stratum and umbrella cells. Cell surface markers, including CD44, CD67LR, EMA, ALDH1A1 and BCMab1, are used to identify and isolate BCSCs. The Hedgehog, Notch, Wnt and JAK-STAT signaling pathways play key roles in maintaining the stemness, self-renewal and proliferative potential of BCSCs. High expression of ABC transporters, acetaldehyde dehydrogenase, antioxidants and apoptosis resistance proteins in BCSCs play a critical role in chemoresistance. Consequently, a greater understanding of the biology of BCSCs will be important for identifying effective therapeutic targets to improve clinical outcomes for bladder cancer patients.

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