Cancer stem cells - the current status of an old concept: literature review and clinical approaches
As regards their morphology and biology, tumours consist of heterogeneous cell populations. The cancer stem cell (CSC) hypothesis assumes that a tumour is hierarchically organized and not all of the cells are equally capable of generating descendants, similarly to normal tissue. The only cells being able to self-renew and produce a heterogeneous tumour cell population are cancer stem cells. CSCs probably derive from normal stem cells, although progenitor cells may be taken into consideration as the source of cancer stem cells. CSCs reside in the niche defined as the microenvironment formed by stromal cells, vasculature and extracellular matrix. The CSC assays include FACS sorting, xenotransplantation to immunodeficient mice (SCID), incubation with Hoechst 33342 dye, cell culture in non-adherent conditions, cell culture with bromodeoxyuridine. CSCs have certain properties that make them resistant to anticancer therapy, which suggests they may be the target for potential therapeutic strategies.