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Carcinogenesis. 2017 Feb 1;38(2):107-118. doi: 10.1093/carcin/bgw115.

Hide-and-seek: the interplay between cancer stem cells and the immune system.

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Department of Pathology and.
Department of Microbiology and Immunology, Dalhousie University, 5850 College Street, Halifax, Nova Scotia B3H 4R2, Canada.


The enhanced ability of cancer stem cells (CSCs) to give rise to new tumors suggests that these cells may also have an advantage in evading immune detection and elimination. This tumor-forming ability, combined with the known plasticity of the immune system, which can play both protumorigenic and antitumorigenic roles, has motivated investigations into the interaction between CSCs and the immune system. Herein, we review the interplay between host immunity and CSCs by examining the immune-related mechanisms that favor CSCs and the CSC-mediated expansion of protumorigenic immune cells. Furthermore, we discuss immune cells, such as natural killer cells, that preferentially target CSCs and the strategies used by CSCs to evade immune detection and destruction. An increased understanding of these interactions and the pathways that regulate them may allow us to harness immune system components to create new adjuvant therapies that eradicate CSCs and improve patient survival.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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