Signalling mechanism(s) of epithelial-mesenchymal transition and cancer stem cells in tumour therapeutic resistance

Zhihong Cai, Yijing Cao, Yichen Luo, Haobin Hu, Hui Ling
Clinica Chimica Acta; International Journal of Clinical Chemistry 2018, 483: 156-163

Epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) leads to tumour progression, including tumour metastasis, disease recurrence and therapy resistance. Cancer stem cells (CSCs) are a small group of cells that have the ability to undergo self-renewal and heterogeneous differentiation, which play a key role in the occurrence and development of cancer. EMT can promote tumour cells to develop stem cell characteristics, which makes tumours more difficult to treat. Therefore, exploring the role of EMT and CSCs in the metastasis of cancer is of great significance to guide tumour treatment and prognosis. In this review, we discuss EMT and CSCs in cancer progression and therapeutic resistance, with a special focus on the common characteristics and relationships between these processes, to explore the crucial relationships in the development of improved anti-tumour therapies.

AREAS COVERED: In this brief review article, the author has searched PubMed and Wikipedia for original research and reviewed articles to gather current information on the association of CSCs and EMT with therapeutic resistance characteristics, cancer growth and metastasis, which are believed to be regulated by the TGF-β, Wnt, Hedgehog (Hh), β-catenin, STAT3, Notch, and Nanog signalling pathways and other factors (miRNAs, microenvironment and additional cytokines).

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