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      Drug-resistant colon cancer cells produce high carcinoembryonic antigen and might not be cancer-initiating cells

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          We evaluated the higher levels of carcinoembryonic antigen (CEA) secreted by the LoVo human colon carcinoma cells in a medium containing anticancer drugs. Drug-resistant LoVo cells were analyzed by subcutaneously xenotransplanting them into mice. The aim of this study was to evaluate whether the drug-resistant cells isolated in this study were cancer-initiating cells, known also as cancer stem cells (CSCs).


          The production of CEA was investigated in LoVo cells that were cultured with 0–10 mM of anticancer drugs, and we evaluated the increase in CEA production by the LoVo cells that were stimulated by anticancer drug treatment. The expression of several CSC markers in LoVo cells treated with anticancer drugs was also evaluated. Following anticancer drug treatment, LoVo cells were injected subcutaneously into the flanks of severe combined immunodeficiency mice in order to evaluate the CSC fraction.


          Production of CEA by LoVo cells was stimulated by the addition of anticancer drugs. Drug-resistant LoVo cells expressed lower levels of CSC markers, and LoVo cells treated with any of the anticancer drugs tested did not generate tumors within 8 weeks from when the cells were injected subcutaneously into severe combined immunodeficiency mice. These results suggest that the drug-resistant LoVo cells have a smaller population of CSCs than the untreated LoVo cells.


          Production of CEA by LoVo cells can be stimulated by the addition of anticancer drugs. The drug-resistant subpopulation of LoVo colon cancer cells could stimulate the production of CEA, but these cells did not act as CSCs in in vivo tumor generation experiments.

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          Most cited references 37

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          Aldehyde dehydrogenase 1 is a marker for normal and malignant human colonic stem cells (SC) and tracks SC overpopulation during colon tumorigenesis.

          Although the concept that cancers originate from stem cells (SC) is becoming scientifically accepted, mechanisms by which SC contribute to tumor initiation and progression are largely unknown. For colorectal cancer (CRC), investigation of this problem has been hindered by a paucity of specific markers for identification and isolation of SC from normal and malignant colon. Accordingly, aldehyde dehydrogenase 1 (ALDH1) was investigated as a possible marker for identifying colonic SC and for tracking them during cancer progression. Immunostaining showed that ALDH1(+) cells are sparse and limited to the normal crypt bottom, where SCs reside. During progression from normal epithelium to mutant (APC) epithelium to adenoma, ALDH1(+) cells increased in number and became distributed farther up the crypt. CD133(+) and CD44(+) cells, which are more numerous and broadly distributed in normal crypts, showed similar changes during tumorigenesis. Flow cytometric isolation of cancer cells based on enzymatic activity of ALDH (Aldefluor assay) and implantation of these cells in nonobese diabetic-severe combined immunodeficient mice (a) generated xenograft tumors (Aldefluor(-) cells did not), (b) generated them after implanting as few as 25 cells, and (c) generated them dose dependently. Further isolation of cancer cells using a second marker (CD44(+) or CD133(+) serially) only modestly increased enrichment based on tumor-initiating ability. Thus, ALDH1 seems to be a specific marker for identifying, isolating, and tracking human colonic SC during CRC development. These findings also support our original hypothesis, derived previously from mathematical modeling of crypt dynamics, that progressive colonic SC overpopulation occurs during colon tumorigenesis and drives CRC development.
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            Single-cell cloning of colon cancer stem cells reveals a multi-lineage differentiation capacity.

            Colon carcinoma is one of the leading causes of death from cancer and is characterized by a heterogenic pool of cells with distinct differentiation patterns. Recently, it was reported that a population of undifferentiated cells from a primary tumor, so-called cancer stem cells (CSC), can reconstitute the original tumor on xenotransplantation. Here, we show that spheroid cultures of these colon CSCs contain expression of CD133, CD166, CD44, CD29, CD24, Lgr5, and nuclear beta-catenin, which have all been suggested to mark the (cancer) stem cell population. More importantly, by using these spheroid cultures or freshly isolated tumor cells from multiple colon carcinomas, we now provide compelling evidence to indicate that the capacity to propagate a tumor with all differentiated progeny resides in a single CSC. Single-cell-cloned CSCs can form an adenocarcinoma on xenotransplantation but do not generate the stroma within these tumors. Moreover, they can self-renew and are capable of multilineage differentiation. Further analysis indicated that the lineage decision is dictated by phosphoinositide 3-kinase (PI3K) signaling in CSCs. These data support the hypothesis that tumor hierarchy can be traced back to a single CSC that contains multilineage differentiation capacity, and provides clues to the regulation of differentiation in colon cancers in vivo.
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              CD133 expression is not restricted to stem cells, and both CD133+ and CD133- metastatic colon cancer cells initiate tumors.

              Colon cancer stem cells are believed to originate from a rare population of putative CD133+ intestinal stem cells. Recent publications suggest that a small subset of colon cancer cells expresses CD133, and that only these CD133+ cancer cells are capable of tumor initiation. However, the precise contribution of CD133+ tumor-initiating cells in mediating colon cancer metastasis remains unknown. Therefore, to temporally and spatially track the expression of CD133 in adult mice and during tumorigenesis, we generated a knockin lacZ reporter mouse (CD133lacZ/+), in which the expression of lacZ is driven by the endogenous CD133 promoters. Using this model and immunostaining, we discovered that CD133 expression in colon is not restricted to stem cells; on the contrary, CD133 is ubiquitously expressed on differentiated colonic epithelium in both adult mice and humans. Using Il10-/-CD133lacZ mice, in which chronic inflammation in colon leads to adenocarcinomas, we demonstrated that CD133 is expressed on a full gamut of colonic tumor cells, which express epithelial cell adhesion molecule (EpCAM). Similarly, CD133 is widely expressed by human primary colon cancer epithelial cells, whereas the CD133- population is composed mostly of stromal and inflammatory cells. Conversely, CD133 expression does not identify the entire population of epithelial and tumor-initiating cells in human metastatic colon cancer. Indeed, both CD133+ and CD133- metastatic tumor subpopulations formed colonospheres in in vitro cultures and were capable of long-term tumorigenesis in a NOD/SCID serial xenotransplantation model. Moreover, metastatic CD133- cells form more aggressive tumors and express typical phenotypic markers of cancer-initiating cells, including CD44 (CD44+CD24-), whereas the CD133+ fraction is composed of CD44lowCD24+ cells. Collectively, our data suggest that CD133 expression is not restricted to intestinal stem or cancer-initiating cells, and during the metastatic transition, CD133+ tumor cells might give rise to the more aggressive CD133(- )subset, which is also capable of tumor initiation in NOD/SCID mice.

                Author and article information

                Drug Des Devel Ther
                Drug Des Devel Ther
                Drug Design, Development and Therapy
                Dove Medical Press
                17 June 2013
                : 7
                : 491-502
                [1 ]Graduate Institute of Systems Biology and Bioinformatics, National Central University, Jhongli, Taoyuan
                [2 ]Department of Surgery, Cathay General Hospital, Da’an District, Taipei
                [3 ]Cathay Medical Research Institute, Cathay General Hospital, Hsi-Chi City, Taipei
                [4 ]Department of Chemical and Materials Engineering, National Central University, Jhongli, Taoyuan, Taiwan
                [5 ]Department of Reproduction, National Research Institute for Child Health and Development, Okura, Tokyo, Japan
                Author notes
                Correspondence: Akon Higuchi, Department of Chemical and Materials Engineering, National Central University, No 300, Jhongda Rd, Jhongli, Taoyuan, 32001, Taiwan, Tel +886 3 4227151 ext 34253, Fax +886 3 4252296, Email higuchi@ 123456ncu.edu.tw
                © 2013 Lee et al, publisher and licensee Dove Medical Press Ltd

                This is an Open Access article which permits unrestricted noncommercial use, provided the original work is properly cited.

                Original Research


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