Tumour-initiating cells vs. cancer 'stem' cells and CD133: what's in the name?

Biochem Biophys Res Commun. 2007 Apr 20;355(4):855-9. doi: 10.1016/j.bbrc.2007.01.159. Epub 2007 Feb 6.


Recent evidence suggests that a subset of cells within a tumour have 'stem-like' characteristics. These tumour-initiating cells, distinct from non-malignant stem cells, show low proliferative rates, high self-renewing capacity, propensity to differentiate into actively proliferating tumour cells, resistance to chemotherapy or radiation, and they are often characterised by elevated expression of the stem cell surface marker CD133. Understanding the molecular biology of the CD133(+) cancer cells is now essential for developing more effective cancer treatments. These may include drugs targeting organelles, such as mitochondria or lysosomes, using highly efficient and selective inducers of apoptosis. Alternatively, agents or treatment regimens that enhance sensitivity of these therapy-resistant "tumour stem cells" to the current or emerging anti-tumour drugs would be of interest as well.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • AC133 Antigen
  • Animals
  • Antigens, CD / genetics
  • Antigens, CD / metabolism*
  • Biomarkers, Tumor
  • Drug Resistance, Neoplasm
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Neoplastic
  • Glycoproteins / genetics
  • Glycoproteins / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Neoplasms / genetics
  • Neoplasms / metabolism*
  • Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Neoplastic Stem Cells / metabolism*
  • Neoplastic Stem Cells / pathology
  • Peptides / genetics
  • Peptides / metabolism*


  • AC133 Antigen
  • Antigens, CD
  • Biomarkers, Tumor
  • Glycoproteins
  • PROM1 protein, human
  • Peptides