Human primary bone sarcomas contain CD133+ cancer stem cells displaying high tumorigenicity in vivo

Virginia Tirino, Vincenzo Desiderio, Francesca Paino, Alfredo De Rosa, Federica Papaccio, Flavio Fazioli, Giuseppe Pirozzi, Gianpaolo Papaccio

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This study aimed to identify, isolate, and characterize cancer stem cells from human primary sarcomas. We performed cytometric analyses for stemness and differentiation antigens, including CD29, CD34, CD44, CD90, CD117, and CD133, on 21 human primary sarcomas on the day of surgery. From sarcoma biopsies, we obtained 2 chondrosarcoma-stabilized cell lines and 2 osteosarcoma stabilized cell lines, on which sphere formation, side population profile, stemness gene expression, and in vivo and in vitro assays were performed. All samples expressed the CD133, CD44, and CD29 markers. Therefore, we selected a CD133 + subpopulation from stabilized cell lines that displayed the capacity to grow as sarcospheres able to initiate and sustain tumor growth in nonobese diabetic/severe combined (NOD/SCID) mice, to express stemness genes, including OCT3/4, Nanog, Sox2, and Nestin, and to differentiate into mesenchymal lineages, such as osteoblasts and adipocytes. Our findings show the existence of cancer stem cells in human primary bone sarcomas and highlight CD133 as a pivotal marker for identification of these cells. This may be of primary importance in the development of new therapeutic strategies and new prognostic procedures against these highly aggressive and metastatic tumors.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2022-2030
Number of pages9
JournalFASEB Journal
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2011


  • Chondrosarcoma
  • Osteosarcoma
  • Sarcospheres
  • Tumor-initiating cells

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Biotechnology
  • Genetics
  • Molecular Biology


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