Role of Cancer Stem Cells in Spine Tumors

Neurosurgery 71:117–125, 2012 DOI: 10.1227/NEU.0b013e3182532e71

The management of spinal column tumors continues to be a challenge for clinicians. The mechanisms of tumor recurrence after surgical intervention as well as resistance to radiation and chemotherapy continue to be elucidated. Furthermore, the pathophysiology of metastatic spread remains an area of active investigation.

There is a growing body of evidence pointing to the existence of a subset of tumor cells with high tumorigenic potential in many spine cancers that exhibit characteristics similar to those of stem cells. The ability to self-renew and differentiate into multiple lineages is the hallmark of stem cells, and tumor cells that exhibit these characteristics have been described as cancer stem cells (CSCs).

The mechanisms that allow nonmalignant stem cells to promote normal developmental programming by way of enhanced proliferation, promotion of angiogenesis, and increased motility may be used by CSCs to fuel carcinogenesis.

The purpose of this review is to discuss what is known about the role of CSCs in tumors of the osseous spine. First, this article reviews the fundamental concepts critical to understanding the role of CSCs with respect to chemoresistance, radioresistance, and metastatic disease. This discussion is followed by a review of what is known about the role of CSCs in the most common primary tumors of the osseous spine.

A review of the role of stem cells in the development and treatment of glioma

Acta Neurochir (2012) 154:951–969. DOI 10.1007/s00701-012-1338-9

The neurosurgical management of patients with intrinsic glial cancers is one of the most rapidly evolving areas of practice. This has been fuelled by advances in surgical technique not only in cytoreduction but also in drug delivery. Further innovation will depend on a deeper understanding of the biology of the disease and an appreciation of the limitations of current knowledge.

Here we review the controversial topic of cancer stem cells applied to glioma to provide neurosurgeons with a working overview. It is now recognised that the adult human brain contains regionally specified cell populations capable of self-renewal that may contribute to tumour growth and maintenance following accumulated mutational change. Tumour cells adapted to maintain growth demonstrate some stem-like characteristics and as such constitute a legitimate therapeutic target. Cellular reprogramming technologies raise the potential of developing stem cells as novel surgical tools to target disease and possibly ameliorate some of the consequences of treatment. Achieving these goals remains a significant challenge to neurosurgical oncologists, not least in challenging how we think about treating brain cancer.

This review will briefly examine our understanding of adult stem cells within the brain, the evidence that they contribute to the development of brain tumours as tumour-initiating cells, and the potential implications for therapy. It will also look at the role stem cells may play in the future management of glioma.