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Oncol Lett. 2016 May;11(5):3145-3151. Epub 2016 Mar 17.

Side population in hepatocellular carcinoma HCCLM3 cells is enriched with stem-like cancer cells.

Author information

1
Department of Hepatobiliary Surgery, Affiliated Tumor Hospital of Guangxi Medical University, Nanning, Guangxi 530021, P.R. China; Department of Thyroid and Breast Surgery, The Central Hospital of Wuhan, Wuhan, Hubei 430000, P.R. China.
2
Department of General Surgery, The Second People's Hospital of Jingmen, Jingmen, Hubei 448000, P.R. China.
3
Department of Ultrasound, Wuhan No. 1 Hospital, Wuhan, Hubei 430000, P.R. China.
4
Department of Hepatobiliary Surgery, Affiliated Tumor Hospital of Guangxi Medical University, Nanning, Guangxi 530021, P.R. China.
5
Medical Science Experimental Center, Guangxi Medical University, Nanning, Guangxi 530021, P.R. China.
6
Department of Immunology, School of Preclinical Medicine, Biological Targeting Diagnosis and Therapy, Research Center, Guangxi Medical University, Nanning, Guangxi 530021, P.R. China.

Abstract

Substantial evidence implicates that low-abundance cancer stem cells (CSCs) are responsible for tumor metastasis and recurrence in hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). Side population (SP) cells possess typical CSCs-like features, and are frequently considered as a special subpopulation in which CSCs are enriched and in studies may be considered as a substitute for CSCs. The aim of the present study was to examine the abundance of SP cells in human HCC cell lines with different metastatic potentials and compare their CSC-like, tumorigenic and invasive properties with those of the main population (MP) cells. An experimental system is described for identifying SP cells and analyzing their CSC-like properties. The relative abundance of SP cells correlated directly with the metastatic potential of the HCC cell line: HCCLM3, 16.3±2.2%; MHCC97-H, 8.4±0.7%; MHCC97-L, 4.7±0.5%; and Huh7, 1.0±0.3% (P<0.05). SP cells isolated from HCCLM3 cultures showed significantly higher proliferation rates and clonogenicity than the corresponding MP cells, in addition to higher migration and invasive abilities in vitro and greater tumorigenicity in mice. Expression levels of all CSC-associated genes tested, except EpCAM and Oct4, were significantly higher in SP cells. The findings revealed that the proportion of SP cells correlates with metastatic potential, and SP cells demonstrated the characteristics expected of CSCs, implicating them in HCC metastasis. Further studies on the identification and characterization of SP cells using clinical HCC specimens will contribute to the understanding of how SP cells are involved in these disease processes.

KEYWORDS:

cancer stem cell; hepatocellular carcinoma; metastasis; recurrence; side population

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