Characterization of CD133+ hepatocellular carcinoma cells as cancer stem/progenitor cells

Biochem Biophys Res Commun. 2006 Dec 29;351(4):820-4. doi: 10.1016/j.bbrc.2006.10.128. Epub 2006 Nov 2.


The CD133 antigen, identified as a hematopoietic stem cell marker, appears in various human embryonic epithelia including the neural tube, gut, and kidney. We herein investigated whether CD133(+) cells isolated from human hepatocellular carcinoma cell lines possess cancer stem/progenitor cell-like properties. Among the three cell lines studied, the CD133 antigen was found to be expressed only on the surface of Huh-7 cells. CD133(+) cells from Huh-7 performed a higher in vitro proliferative potential and lower mRNA expressions of mature hepatocyte markers, glutamine synthetase and cytochrome P450 3A4, than CD133(-) population of Huh-7 cells. When either CD133(+) or CD133(-) cells were subcutaneously injected into SCID mice, CD133(+) cells formed tumors, whereas CD133(-) cells induced either a very small number of tumors or none at all. Taken together, the identification of CD133(+) cells could thus be a potentially powerful tool to investigate the tumorigenic process in the hepatoma system and to also develop effective therapies targeted against hepatocellular carcinoma.

MeSH terms

  • AC133 Antigen
  • Animals
  • Antigens, CD / analysis
  • Antigens, CD / genetics
  • Antigens, CD / physiology*
  • Carcinoma, Hepatocellular / chemistry
  • Carcinoma, Hepatocellular / genetics
  • Carcinoma, Hepatocellular / pathology*
  • Glycoproteins / analysis
  • Glycoproteins / genetics
  • Glycoproteins / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Liver Neoplasms / chemistry
  • Liver Neoplasms / genetics
  • Liver Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Mice
  • Mice, SCID
  • Neoplasm Transplantation / pathology
  • Peptides / analysis
  • Peptides / genetics
  • Peptides / physiology*
  • Stem Cells / chemistry
  • Stem Cells / pathology*


  • AC133 Antigen
  • Antigens, CD
  • Glycoproteins
  • PROM1 protein, human
  • Peptides
  • Prom1 protein, mouse