Cancer stem cell-targeted bio-imaging and chemotherapeutic perspective

Jiyou Han, Miae Won, Ji Hyeon Kim, Eugeine Jung, Kyungim Min, Paramesh Jangili, Jong Seung Kim

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

57 Citations (Scopus)


Cancer stem cells (CSCs), also called tumor-initiating cells (TICs), have been studied intensively due to their rapid proliferation, migration, and role in the recurrence of cancer. In general, CSC marker-positive cells [CD133, CD44, CD166, aldehyde dehydrogenase (ALDH), and epithelial cell adhesion molecule (EpCAM)] exhibit a 100-fold increased capacity to initiate cancer. Within a heterogeneous tumor mass, only approximately 0.05-3% of cells are suspected to be CSCs and able to proliferate under hypoxia. Interestingly, CSCs, cancer cells, and normal stem cells share many cytochemical properties, such as inhibition of the redox system for reactive oxygen species (ROS) production and high expression of drug resistance transporters. However, compared to normal stem cells, CSCs develop unique metabolic flexibility, which involves switching between oxidative phosphorylation (OXPHOS) and glycolysis as their main source of energy. Due to the similarities between CSCs and other cancer cells and normal stem cells, limited chemotherapeutic and bio-imaging reagents specific for CSCs have been developed. In this short review, we address the current knowledge regarding CSCs with a focus on designing chemotherapeutic and bio-imaging reagents that target CSCs.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)7856-7878
Number of pages23
JournalChemical Society Reviews
Issue number22
Publication statusPublished - 2020 Nov 21

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Chemistry(all)


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