Bladder cancer stem cells

Mai N. Tran, Jinesh G. Goodwin, David J. McConkey, Ashish M. Kamat

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

31 Scopus citations


Stem cells are undifferentiated cells that renew themselves while simultaneously producing differentiated tissue- or organspecific cells through asymmetric cell division. The appreciation of the importance of stem cells in normal tissue biology has prompted the idea that cancers may also develop from a progenitor pool (the "cancer stem cell (CSC) hypothesis"), and this idea is gaining increasing acceptance among scientists. CSCs are sub-populations of cancer cells responsible for tumor initiation, differentiation, recurrence, metastasis, and drug resistance. First identified in the hematopoietic system, CSCs have also been discovered in solid tumors of the breast, colon, pancreas, and brain. Recently, the tissue-specific stem cells of the normal urothelium have been proposed to reside in the basal layer, and investigators have isolated phenotypically similar populations of cells from urothelial cancer cell lines and primary tumors. Herein, we review the CSC hypothesis and apply it to explain the development of the two different types of bladder cancer: Noninvasive ("superficial") carcinoma and invasive carcinoma. We also examine potential approaches to identify CSCs in bladder cancer as well as therapeutic applications of these findings. While exciting, the verification of the existence of CSCs in bladder cancer raises several new questions. Herein, we identify and answer some of these questions to help readers better understand bladder cancer development and identify reasonable therapeutic strategy for targeting stem cells.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)387-395
Number of pages9
JournalCurrent Stem Cell Research and Therapy
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2010
Externally publishedYes


  • Bladder cancer
  • Cancer stem cell
  • EMT
  • Muscle invasive
  • Superficial
  • miRNA

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)


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