Endometrial cancer stem cells: Role, characterization and therapeutic implications

Gaia Giannone, Laura Attademo, Giulia Scotto, Sofia Genta, Eleonora Ghisoni, Valentina Tuninetti, Massimo Aglietta, Sandro Pignata, Giorgio Valabrega

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Endometrial cancer (EC) is the most frequent gynecological cancer. In patients with relapsed and advanced disease, prognosis is still dismal and development of resistance is common. In this context, endometrial Cancer Stem Cells (eCSC), stem-like cells capable to self-renewal and differentiation in mature cancer cells, represent a potential field of expansion for drug development. The aim of this review is to characterize the role of eCSC in EC, their features and how they could be targeted. CSC are involved in progression, invasiveness and metastasis (though epithelial to mesenchimal transition, EMT), as well as chemoresistance in EC. Nevertheless, isolation of eCSC is still controversial. Indeed, CD133, Aldheyde dehydrogenase (ALDH), CD117, CD55 and CD44 are enriched in CSCs but there is no universal marker nowadays. The most frequently activated pathways in eCSC are Wingless-INT (Wnt)/β-catenin, Notch1, and Hedghog, with a high expression of self-renewal transcription factors like Octamer binding transcription factor 4 (OCT), B Lymphoma Mo-MLV Insertion Region 1 Homolog (BMI1), North American Network Operations Group Homebox protein (NANOG), and SRY-Box 2 (SOX2). These pathways have been targeted with selective drugs alone or in combination with chemotherapy and immunotherapy. Unfortunately, although preclinical results are encouraging, few clinical data are available.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1820
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2019


  • Cancer stem cell
  • Endometrial cancer
  • Target therapy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


Dive into the research topics of 'Endometrial cancer stem cells: Role, characterization and therapeutic implications'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this