Opportunities in Cancer Therapies: Deciphering the Role of Cancer Stem Cells in Tumour Repopulation

Loredana G. Marcu, Mikaela Dell’Oro, Eva Bezak

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Tumour repopulation during treatment is a well acknowledged yet still challenging aspect of cancer management. The latest research results show clear evidence towards the existence of cancer stem cells (CSCs) that are responsible for tumour repopulation, dissemination, and distant metastases in most solid cancers. Cancer stem cell quiescence and the loss of asymmetrical division are two powerful mechanisms behind repopulation. Another important aspect in the context of cancer stem cells is cell plasticity, which was shown to be triggered during fractionated radiotherapy, leading to cell dedifferentiation and thus reactivation of stem-like properties. Repopulation during treatment is not limited to radiotherapy, as there is clinical proof for repopulation mechanisms to be activated through other conventional treatment techniques, such as chemotherapy. The dynamic nature of stem-like cancer cells often elicits resistance to treatment by escaping drug-induced cell death. The aims of this scoping review are (1) to describe the main mechanisms used by cancer stem cells to initiate tumour repopulation during therapy; (2) to present clinical evidence for tumour repopulation during radio- and chemotherapy; (3) to illustrate current trends in the identification of CSCs using specific imaging techniques; and (4) to highlight novel technologies that show potential in the eradication of CSCs.

Original languageEnglish
Article number17258
JournalInternational Journal of Molecular Sciences
Issue number24
Publication statusPublished - 2023


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