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September 12, 2007

Investigators Link Group of Cancer Stem Cells to Metastasis in Pancreatic Cancer

  • Ludwig-Maximilians-University scientists identified a subpopulation of cancer stem cells (CSCs) that is responsible for metastasis of a type of human pancreatic cancer.

    In the study, the investigators discovered that human pancreatic cancer tissue contains tumorigenic and chemotherapy-resistant stem cells defined by expression of CD133, a surface marker expressed by a variety of normal and malignant stem cells. They identified a distinct subset of cells expressing both CD133 and the chemokine receptor CXCR4, which plays a key role in blood cell migration in the invasive front of the tumor.

    When the team implanted mice with isolated CD133+/CXCR4+ cells, they developed metastatic tumors. Cancer spread was abolished, however, by inhibiting CXCR4 or by transplanting CD133+/CXCR4- cells instead. The researchers say that this underlines the importance of CXCR4 for the invasive cell behavior.

    Further clinical studies revealed that tumor samples with a high number of CXCR4+ cells were more migratory and came from patients that suffered from more advanced metastatic disease.

    The study is published in the September issue of Cell Stem Cell.

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