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Cancer Lett. 2009 Aug 18;281(1):92-9. doi: 10.1016/j.canlet.2009.02.033. Epub 2009 Mar 25.

A novel approach to the identification and enrichment of cancer stem cells from a cultured human glioma cell line.

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Institute of Pathology and Southwest Cancer Center, Southwest Hospital, Third Military Medical University, Chongqing, China.


Enrichment of cancer stem cells for studies of carcinogenesis remains a difficult issue. We hypothesized that the unique features of cancer stem cells (CSCs) may allow formation of their colonies in vitro with distinct morphology. We therefore investigated the possibility to use morphological diversity of colonies to identify and enrich CSCs from cultured malignant human glioma cells. We found that a small proportion of the cells from a human glioma cell line U251 formed tight and round-shaped colonies in culture. Most cells in such colonies were capable of self-renewal, generating tumor spheres and differentiating into lineages with markers for neurons, astrocytes and oligodendrocytes. In addition, several neural stem cell-related genes were highly expressed by tumor cells in those tight colonies. Our results thus demonstrate a novel approach to the identification and enrichment of CSCs based on unique morphology of their colonies formed in vitro.

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