Implications of cancer stem cells in developing therapeutic resistance in oral cancer

Prajna Paramita Naik, Durgesh Nandini Das, Prashanta Kumar Panda, Subhadip Mukhopadhyay, Niharika Sinha, Prakash Priyadarshi Praharaj, Rajesh Agarwal, Sujit Kumar Bhutia
Oral Oncology 2016, 62: 122-135
Conventional therapeutics are often frequented with recurrences, refraction and regimen resistance in oral cavity cancers which are predominantly manifested by cancer stem cells (CSCs). During oncoevolution, cancer cells may undergo structural and functional reprogramming wherein they evolve as highly tolerant CSC phenotypes with greater survival advantages. The CSCs possess inherent and exclusive properties including self-renewal, hierarchical differentiation, and tumorigenicity that serve as the basis of chemo-radio-resistance in oral cancer. However, the key mechanisms underlying the CSC-mediated therapy resistance need to be further elucidated. A spectrum of dysfunctional cellular pathways including the developmental signaling, apoptosis, autophagy, cell cycle regulation, DNA damage responses and epigenetic regulations protect the CSCs from conventional therapies. Moreover, tumor niche shelters CSCs and creates an immunosuppressive environment favoring the survival of CSCs. Maintenance of lower redox status, epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition (EMT), metabolic reprogramming and altered drug responses are the accessory features that aid in the process of chemo-radio-resistance in oral CSCs. This review deals with the functional and molecular basis of cancer cell pluripotency-associated resistance highlighting the abrupt fundamental cellular processes; targeting these events may hold a great promise in the successful treatment of oral cancer.

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