Enrichment and characterization of cancer stem cells from a human non-small cell lung cancer cell line

Changhong Zhao, Sarra Setrerrahmane, Hanmei Xu
Oncology Reports 2015, 34 (4): 2126-32
Tumor cells from the same origin comprise different cell populations. Among them, cancer stem cells (CSCs) have higher tumorigenicity. It is necessary to enrich CSCs to determine an effective way to suppress and eliminate them. In the present study, using the non-adhesive culture system, tumor spheres were successfully generated from human A549 non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) cell line within 2 weeks. Compared to A549 adherent cells, sphere cells had a higher self-renewal ability and increased resistance to cytotoxic drugs. Sphere cells were more invasive and expressed stem cell markers including octamer‑binding transcription factor 4 (Oct4) and sex-determining region Y-box 2 (Sox2) at high levels. CD133, a disputed marker of lung CSCs, was also upregulated. Tumor sphere cells showed higher tumorigenic ability in vivo, indicating that more CSCs were enriched in the sphere cells. More blood vessels were formed in the tumor generated by sphere cells suggesting the interaction between CSCs and blood vessel. A reliable model of enriching CSCs from the human A549 NSCLC cell line was established that was simple and cost-effective compared to other methods.

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