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Antioxid Redox Signal. 2009 May;11(5):1107-22. doi: 10.1089/ARS.2008.2308.

Redox regulation and its emerging roles in stem cells and stem-like cancer cells.

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Department of Molecular Pathology, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, The University of Texas at Houston, Houston, Texas 77030, USA.


The existence of cancer stem cells has impelled the pursuit to understanding and characterizing this subset of cells, which are thought to be responsible for tumor recurrence and to contribute to therapy resistance. Recent studies suggest that cancer stem cells seem to possess properties similar to those of normal stem cells, revealing a possible therapeutic strategy/target. For this to be feasible, it is imperative to understand the relation between cancer cells, cancer stem cells, and normal stem cells. Cancer cells have been found to be in a state of redox imbalance, an alteration in the homeostasis between oxidants and antioxidants, resulting in increased oxidants within the cell. Studies have shown redox balance plays an important role in the maintenance of stem cell self-renewal and in differentiation. Very little is known about the redox status in cancer stem cells. In this review, we focus on the sites of oxidant generation and the regulation of redox status in cancer cells and stem cells. In addition, evidence that supports the involvement of redox homeostasis for stem cell self-renewal, differentiation, and survival are reviewed. Given the significance of redox in stem cells, we also discuss the possibility of exploiting the redox status in cancer stem cells as a novel therapeutic strategy.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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