Pharmacological targets of breast cancer stem cells: a review

  • Sai Kiran S. S. Pindiprolu
  • Praveen T. Krishnamurthy
  • Pavan Kumar Chintamaneni


Breast cancers contain small population of tumor-initiating cells called breast cancer stem cells (BCSCs), which are spared even after chemotherapy. Recently, BCSCs are implicated to be a cause of metastasis, tumor relapse, and therapy resistance in breast cancer. BCSCs have unique molecular mechanisms, which can be targeted to eliminate them. These include surface biomarkers, proteins involved in self-renewal pathways, drug efflux transporters, apoptotic/antiapoptotic proteins, autophagy, metabolism, and microenvironment regulation. The complex molecular mechanisms behind the survival of BCSCs and pharmacological targets for elimination of BCSCs are described in this review.


Breast cancer Breast cancer stem cells Tumor relapse Metastasis Chemoresistance 



ATP-binding cassette


Ataxia telangiectasia-mutated serine/threonine kinase


B cell lymphoma 2


Breast cancer resistance protein


Breast cancer stem cells


Bcl2 interacting killer


B cell-specific Moloney murine leukemia virus integration site 1


Bone morphogenetic protein 2


Carbonic anhydrase-IX




CBF-1/RBPJ-κ in Homo sapiens/Mus musculus, respectively, Suppressor of hairless in Drosophila melanogaster, Lag-1 in Caenorhabditis elegans


Cyclin-dependent kinases


Checkpoint kinases


C-terminus of myc protein


Desert Hedgehog


Delta-like 4 ligand




Death receptors


Epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition


EpCAM intracellular domain


Fatty acid synthase


Fumitremorgin C


Glioma-associated oncogene


Glucose transporter


Granulocyte-macrophage colony-stimulating factor


Glutathione peroxidase


Glycogen synthase kinase 3 β


Homology-directed recombination




Hexose kinase


Indian Hedgehog




Janus kinase


Low-density lipoprotein-related receptor


Mastermind like


Mammalian target of rapamycin


Gene named after the Tír na nÓg legend


Nonhomologous end joining


Notch intracellular domain


Non-breast cancer stem cells or bulk tumor cells


Octamer-binding transcription factor


Disheveled PDZ domain


Phosphoinositide 3-kinase


Phosphatase and tensin homolog


Normal stem cells


Sonic Hedgehog


Homologs of Sma and MAD proteins




Superoxide dismutase


Sry-related HMG box


Signal transducers and activators of transcription


Signal transducer and activator of transcription factor 3


Transforming growth factor-β




Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sai Kiran S. S. Pindiprolu
    • 1
  • Praveen T. Krishnamurthy
    • 1
  • Pavan Kumar Chintamaneni
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PharmacologyJSS College of Pharmacy (Jagadguru Sri Shivarathreeshwara University)UdhagamandalamIndia

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