Tumorigenic and metastatic activity of human thyroid cancer stem cells

Ruggero De Maria Marchiano, Silvia Giordano, Matilde Todaro, Flora Iovino, Vincenzo Eterno, Patrizia Cammareri, Guido Gambara, Virginia Espina, Gaspare Gulotta, Francesco Dieli, Giorgio Stassi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

167 Citations (Scopus)


Thyroid carcinoma is the most common endocrine malignancy and the first cause of death among endocrine cancers. We show that the tumorigenic capacity in thyroid cancer is confined in a small subpopulation of stem-like cells with high aldehyde dehydrogenase (ALDHhigh) activity and unlimited replication potential. ALDHhigh cells can be expanded indefinitely in vitro as tumor spheres, which retain the tumorigenic potential upon delivery in immunocompromised mice. Orthotopic injection of minute numbers of thyroid cancer stem cells recapitulates the behavior of the parental tumor, including the aggressive metastatic features of undifferentiated thyroid carcinomas, which are sustained by constitutive activation of cMet and Akt in thyroid cancer stem cells. The identification of tumorigenic and metastagenic thyroid cancer cells may provide unprecedented preclinical tools for development and preclinical validation of novel targeted therapies. ©2010 AACR.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)8874-8885
Number of pages12
JournalCancer Research
Publication statusPublished - 2010


  • Adenocarcinoma, Follicular
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aldehyde Dehydrogenase
  • Animals
  • Blotting, Western
  • Cancer Research
  • Carcinoma
  • Carcinoma, Papillary
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Cell Adhesion
  • Cell Movement
  • Cell Proliferation
  • Cell Transformation, Neoplastic
  • Female
  • Flow Cytometry
  • Fluorescent Antibody Technique
  • Humans
  • Immunoenzyme Techniques
  • Lung Neoplasms
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred NOD
  • Mice, Nude
  • Mice, SCID
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasm Invasiveness
  • Neoplastic Stem Cells
  • Oncology
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-akt
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-met
  • RNA, Messenger
  • Reverse Transcriptase Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Thyroid Gland
  • Thyroid Neoplasms
  • Tumor Stem Cell Assay
  • Xenograft Model Antitumor Assays
  • Young Adult


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