The Concept of Cancer Stem Cell in Oral Squamous Cell Carcinoma

Gokul Sridharan


Oral squamous cell carcinoma (OSCC) is an epithelial malignancy commonly affecting developing countries. The disease progression is characterized by a complex molecular mechanism resulting in accumulated genetic mutations causing uncontrolled cell proliferation. These genetic alterations are primarily evident in somatic stem cells and recently, it has been demonstrated that a subset of these cells referred to as cancer stem cells play an important role in cancer progression. Cancer stem cells are a small subset of cells which were found to be highly tumorigenic with capability of self renewal and behavior akin to tumor progenitor cells. The origin of cancer stem cells could be from normal somatic stem cells, dedifferentiated tumor cells, fusion of tumor epithelial cells with hematopoietic stem cells or due to the process of epithelial-mesenchymal transition. Identification of cancer stem cells could be done by markers such as CD44, CD133, E-cadherin; Wnt signaling pathway, Oct-4 and ABCG2. Cancer stem cells are known to be responsible for tumor recurrence, metastasis and resistance to chemotherapy. The concept of cancer stem cells and its association with OSCC is relatively new and debatable and detailed study is necessary for its better understanding. This editorial highlights the relevant findings on cancer stem cells, its origin, identification and its role in OSCC.

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