Lung Cancer Stem Cells and Cancer Stem Cell-targeting Natural Compounds

Anticancer Res. 2018 Jul;38(7):3797-3809. doi: 10.21873/anticanres.12663.


The novel information regarding molecular and translational research have created a paradigm shift in the understanding of lung cancer biology, revealing the more precise target for anti-cancer drug discovery. Lung cancer is a leading cause of cancer death worldwide accounting for approximately 1 in 5 of all cancer-related deaths. The most important causes of death in such a cancer involves the treatment failure as well as the spreading of cancer cells to distant sites which the cancer stem cell (CSC) within the tumor is accepted as a key driver. CSC is a rare special population of cancer cells exhibiting high tumorigenic properties together with self-renewal and differentiation capability. CSC is not only linked with high tumor-initiating activity, but is also implicated in chemotherapeutic resistance, metastasis, epithelial to mesenchymal transition, and recurrence. Thereafter, novel therapeutic strategies targeting these CSCs are considered in order to improve long-term clinical outcome. Here, we provide sufficient data regarding the biology of CSC in lung cancer, known CSC markers and cellular signals, and promising compounds targeting the stem cell signals in lung cancer that may benefit the development of novel anti-cancer treatment.

Keywords: Cancer stem cell; lung cancer; natural product; review; targeting.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Antineoplastic Agents / pharmacology*
  • Antineoplastic Agents / therapeutic use
  • Biological Products / pharmacology*
  • Biological Products / therapeutic use
  • Biomarkers, Tumor / metabolism
  • Drug Delivery Systems
  • Humans
  • Lung Neoplasms / drug therapy
  • Lung Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Neoplasm Metastasis
  • Neoplasm Proteins / metabolism
  • Neoplastic Stem Cells / drug effects*
  • Neoplastic Stem Cells / pathology


  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Biological Products
  • Biomarkers, Tumor
  • Neoplasm Proteins