Liver cancer: Molecular characterization, clonal evolution and cancer stem cells

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Liver cancer is the second most common cause of cancer-related death. The major forms of primary liver cancer are hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) and intrahepatic cholangiocarcinoma (iCCA). Both these tumors develop against a background of cirrhotic liver, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, chronic liver damage and fibrosis. HCC is a heterogeneous disease which usually develops within liver cirrhosis related to various etiologies: hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection (frequent in Asia and Africa), hepatitis C virus (HCV), chronic alcohol abuse, or metabolic syndrome (frequent in Western countries). In cirrhosis, hepatocarcinogenesis is a multi-step process where pre-cancerous dysplastic macronodules transform progressively into HCC. The patterns of genomic alterations observed in these tumors were recently identified and were instrumental for the identification of potential targeted therapies that could improve patient care. Liver cancer stem cells are a small subset of undifferentiated liver tumor cells, responsible for cancer initiation, metastasis, relapse and chemoresistance, enriched and isolated according to immunophenotypic and functional properties: cell surface proteins (CD133, CD90, CD44, EpCAM, OV-6, CD13, CD24, DLK1, α2δ1, ICAM-1 and CD47); the functional markers corresponding to side population, high aldehyde dehydrogenase (ALDH) activity and autofluorescence. The identification and definition of liver cancer stem cells requires both immunophenotypic and functional properties.

Original languageEnglish
Article number127
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - Sep 20 2017


  • Cancer stem cells
  • Cholangiocarcinoma
  • Cirrhosis
  • Gene sequencing
  • Hepatic adenoma
  • Hepatic dysplastic nodules
  • Hepatitis
  • Hepatocellular carcinoma
  • Tumor xenotrasplantation assay

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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