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The role of IGF/IGF-1R signaling in the regulation of cancer stem cells.

Cancer stem cells (CSCs) are a group of tumor cells with high tumorigenic ability and self-renewal potential similar to those of normal stem cells. CSCs are the key "seeds" for tumor development, metastasis, and recurrence. A better insight into the key mechanisms underlying CSC survival improves the efficiency of cancer therapy via specific targeting of CSCs. Insulin-like growth factor (IGF)/IGF-1 receptor (IGF-1R) signaling plays an important role in the maintenance of cancer stemness. However, the effect of IGF/IGF-1R signaling on stemness and CSCs and the underlying mechanisms are still controversial. Based on the similarity between CSCs and normal stem cells, this review discusses emerging data on the functions of IGF/IGF-1R signaling in normal stem cells and CSCs and dissects the underlying mechanisms by which IGF/IGF-1R signaling is involved in CSCs. On the other hand, this review highlighted the role of IGF/IGF-1R signaling blockade in multiple CSCs as a potential strategy to improve CSC-based therapy.

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