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Head Neck. 2010 Sep;32(9):1195-201. doi: 10.1002/hed.21315.

Single-marker identification of head and neck squamous cell carcinoma cancer stem cells with aldehyde dehydrogenase.

Author information

1
Department of Molecular and Cell Biology, University of Wisconsin, Madison, Wisconsin, USA.

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

In accord with the cancer stem cell (CSC) theory, only a small subset of cancer cells are capable of forming tumors. We previously reported that CD44 isolates tumorigenic cells from head and neck squamous cell cancer (HNSCC). Recent studies indicate that aldehyde dehydrogenase (ALDH) activity may represent a more specific marker of CSCs.

METHODS:

Six primary HNSCCs were collected. Cells with high and low ALDH activity (ALDH(high)/ALDH(low)) were isolated. ALDH(high) and ALDH(low) populations were implanted into NOD/SCID mice and monitored for tumor development.

RESULTS:

ALDH(high) cells represented a small percentage of the tumor cells (1% to 7.8%). ALDH(high) cells formed tumors from as few as 500 cells in 24/45 implantations, whereas only 3/37 implantations of ALDH(low) cells formed tumors.

CONCLUSIONS:

ALDH(high) cells comprise a subpopulation cells in HNSCCs that are tumorigenic and capable of producing tumors at very low numbers. This finding indicates that ALDH activity on its own is a highly selective marker for CSCs in HNSCC.

PMID:
20073073
PMCID:
PMC2991066
DOI:
10.1002/hed.21315
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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