Distinct populations of cancer stem cells determine tumor growth and metastatic activity in human pancreatic cancer.
Cell Stem Cell. 2007 Sep 13 ;1(3):313-23. PMID: 18371365
Department of Surgery, Ludwig-Maximilians-University, 81377 Munich, Germany.
Pancreatic adenocarcinoma is currently the fourth leading cause for cancer-related mortality. Stem cells have been implicated in pancreatic tumor growth, but the specific role of these cancer stem cells in tumor biology, including metastasis, is still uncertain. We found that human pancreatic cancer tissue contains cancer stem cells defined by CD133 expression that are exclusively tumorigenic and highly resistant to standard chemotherapy. In the invasive front of pancreatic tumors, a distinct subpopulation of CD133(+) CXCR4(+) cancer stem cells was identified that determines the metastatic phenotype of the individual tumor. Depletion of the cancer stem cell pool for these migrating cancer stem cells virtually abrogated the metastatic phenotype of pancreatic tumors without affecting their tumorigenic potential. In conclusion, we demonstrate that a subpopulation of migrating CD133(+) CXCR4(+) cancer stem cells is essential for tumor metastasis. Strategies aimed at modulating the SDF-1/CXCR4 axis may have important clinical applications to inhibit metastasis of cancer stem cells.