Journal of Gastrointestinal Cancer

, Volume 48, Issue 3, pp 241–245 | Cite as

Cancer Stem Cells in Hepatocellular Carcinoma

  • Tamer YagciEmail author
  • Metin Cetin
  • Pelin Balcik Ercin
Review Article



Hepatocellular carcinoma is one of the most common cancers and the second leading cause of cancer-related deaths worldwide. Only a small proportion of patients benefit from curative treatment and the prognosis is very poor for the majority of cases due to late presentation, resistance to chemotherapy and high recurrence rate. In recent years, progress in stem cell biology allowed us to explain that hierarchically organized cancer stem cells (CSCs) drive histological and functional heterogeneity of hematological malignancies and solid tumors.

Methods and Results

Also referred to as tumor-initiating cells, CSCs have been isolated from both hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) cell lines and primary tumors by using hepatic progenitor markers. Although there is still no consensus on cancer stem cell phenotype in HCC, single or combined use of CSC markers defines a minor population of tumor cells with the capacity of self-renewing and the ability to recapitulate the original tumor heterogeneity.


This review focuses on the biological features of CSCs and their potential as diagnostic/prognostic tools and therapeutic targets in HCC.


Hepatocellular carcinoma Cancer stem cells Cancer stem cell markers Tumor heterogeneity Tumor recurrence Metastasis 



The study was supported by a grant of The Scientific and Technological Research Council of Turkey (TUBITAK) to Tamer Yagci (111S484). The authors apologize to those investigators whose meritorious works were not cited due to space limitations.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Molecular Biology and GeneticsGebze Technical UniversityCayirovaTurkey

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