Ovarian cancer stem cells: Still an elusive entity?

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The cancer stem cell (CSC) model proposes that tumor development and progression are fueled and sustained by undifferentiated cancer cells, endowed with self-renewal and tumor-initiating capacity. Ovarian carcinoma, based on its biological features and clinical evolution, appears as a prototypical example of CSC-driven disease. Indeed, ovarian cancer stem cells (OCSC) would account not only for the primary tumor growth, the peritoneal spread and the relapse, but also for the development of chemoresistance, thus having profound implication for the treatment of this deadly disease. In the last decade, an increasing body of experimental evidence has supported the existence of OCSC and their pathogenic role in the disease. Nevertheless, the identification of OCSC and the definition of their phenotypical and functional traits have proven quite challenging, mainly because of the heterogeneity of the disease and of the difficulties in establishing reliable biological models. A deeper understanding of OCSC pathobiology will shed light on the mechanisms that underlie the clinical behaviour of OC. In addition, it will favour the design of innovative treatment regimens that, on one hand, would counteract the resistance to conventional chemotherapy, and, on the other, would aim at the eradication of OC through the elimination of its CSC component.

Original languageEnglish
Article number64
JournalMolecular Cancer
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Mar 20 2017

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Medicine
  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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