Cancer stem cells in progression of colorectal cancer

Yujuan Zhou, Longzheng Xia, Heran Wang, Linda Oyang, Min Su, Qiang Liu, Jingguan Lin, Shiming Tan, Yutong Tian, Qianjin Liao and Deliang Cao _

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Oncotarget. 2018; 9:33403-33415. https://doi.org/10.18632/oncotarget.23607

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Yujuan Zhou1,*, Longzheng Xia1,*, Heran Wang1, Linda Oyang1, Min Su1, Qiang Liu1, Jingguan Lin1, Shiming Tan1, Yutong Tian1, Qianjin Liao1 and Deliang Cao1,2

1Hunan Key Laboratory of Translational Radiation Oncology, Hunan Cancer Hospital and the Affiliated Cancer Hospital of Xiangya School of Medicine, Central South University, Changsha, 410013, Hunan, China

2Department of Medical Microbiology, Immunology & Cell Biology, Simmons Cancer Institute, Southern Illinois University School of Medicine, Springfield, IL, 62794, USA

*These authors contributed equally to this work

Correspondence to:

Deliang Cao, email: [email protected]

Qianjin Liao, email: [email protected]

Keywords: colorectal cancer; cancer stem cells; metastasis; epithelial mesenchymal transition; tumor microenvironment

Received: August 28, 2017     Accepted: November 05, 2017     Epub: December 22, 2017     Published: September 07, 2018


Colorectal cancer is one of the most common cancers worldwide with high mortality. Distant metastasis and relapse are major causes of patient death. Cancer stem cells (CSCs) play a critical role in the metastasis and relapse of colorectal cancer. CSCs are a subpopulation of cancer cells with unique properties of self-renewal, infinite division and multi-directional differentiation potential. Colorectal CSCs are defined with a group of cell surface markers, such as CD44, CD133, CD24, EpCAM, LGR5 and ALDH. They are highly tumorigenic, chemoresistant and radioresistant and thus are critical in the metastasis and recurrence of colorectal cancer and disease-free survival. This review article updates the colorectal CSCs with a focus on their role in tumor initiation, progression, drug resistance and tumor relapse.

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