Characteristics of the cancer stem cell niche and therapeutic strategies

Feng Ju, Manar M. Atyah, Nellie Horstmann, Sheraz Gul, Razi Vago, Christiane J. Bruns, Yue Zhao, Qiong Zhu Dong, Ning Ren

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


Distinct regions harboring cancer stem cells (CSCs) have been identified within the microenvironment of various tumors, and as in the case of their healthy counterparts, these anatomical regions are termed “niche.” Thus far, a large volume of studies have shown that CSC niches take part in the maintenance, regulation of renewal, differentiation and plasticity of CSCs. In this review, we summarize and discuss the latest findings regarding CSC niche morphology, physical terrain, main signaling pathways and interactions within them. The cellular and molecular components of CSCs also involve genetic and epigenetic modulations that mediate and support their maintenance, ultimately leading to cancer progression. It suggests that the crosstalk between CSCs and their niche plays an important role regarding therapy resistance and recurrence. In addition, we updated diverse therapeutic strategies in different cancers in basic research and clinical trials in this review. Understanding the complex heterogeneity of CSC niches is a necessary pre-requisite for designing superior therapeutic strategies to target CSC-specific factors and/or components of the CSC niche.

Original languageEnglish
Article number233
JournalStem Cell Research and Therapy
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1 Dec 2022


  • Cancer stem cells
  • Chemokines
  • Hypoxia
  • Metastasis
  • Niche/microenvironment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Medicine
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology (miscellaneous)
  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Cell Biology


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