Cancer stem-like cell behavior in anaplastic thyroid cancer: A challenging dilemma

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Anaplastic thyroid carcinoma (ATC) is an undifferentiated tumor of the thyroid which is characterized with poor prognosis, leading to its aggressive behavior and resistance to conventional therapies. Cancer stem cells (CSCs) are tumor cells that have self-renewal and clonal tumor initiation. Like other cancers, many studies have shown that ATC also has tumor cells with properties like stem cells. To evaluate the concept of cancer stem-like cell theory of ATC, we conducted this study to emphasize both on the concept of cancer stemness origin of these cells and target them for further therapeutic purposes. In the current study, we showed that two ATC cell lines, SW1736 and C643, have subpopulations (SP) that are similar to CSCs.

Materials and methods:

Using MACS technique, cells positive for CD133 were isolated and subsequently validated with flow cytometry. For further analysis, expression of some stemness markers was evaluated.

Key findings:

ABCG2, CD133, and Sox2 were significantly up-regulated, while Nestin was down-regulated in CD133pos subpopulation compared to CD133neg cells. In contrast to previous reports that over-expression of Nestin was considered as a marker for thyroid CSCs, we noticed that expression of Nestin was declined in stem cell-like tumor cells, derived from ATC cell lines.


This study reconfirmed the concept of cancer stem-like cell identity of SW1736 and C643 cells. Indeed, the characterization of CSCs should not be merely based on surface markers. Cell origin and genetic background should be additionally considered on CSCs subpopulation of ATCs for therapeutics.

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