Cancer stem cells in the development of liver cancer

J Clin Invest. 2013 May;123(5):1911-8. doi: 10.1172/JCI66024. Epub 2013 May 1.


Liver cancer is an aggressive disease with a poor outcome. Several hepatic stem/progenitor markers are useful for isolating a subset of liver cells with stem cell features, known as cancer stem cells (CSCs). These cells are responsible for tumor relapse, metastasis, and chemoresistance. Liver CSCs dictate a hierarchical organization that is shared in both organogenesis and tumorigenesis. An increased understanding of the molecular signaling events that regulate cellular hierarchy and stemness, and success in defining key CSC-specific genes, have opened up new avenues to accelerate the development of novel diagnostic and treatment strategies. This Review highlights recent advances in understanding the pathogenesis of liver CSCs and discusses unanswered questions about the concept of liver CSCs.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Lineage
  • Drug Resistance, Neoplasm
  • Humans
  • Liver / pathology
  • Liver Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Liver Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Neoplastic Stem Cells / cytology*
  • Phenotype
  • Prognosis
  • Signal Transduction
  • Stem Cells / cytology