Cancer Stem Cells

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The term cancer stem cell (CSC) refers to a subpopulation of cancer cells that can self-renew, generate diverse cells in the tumor mass, and sustain tumorigenesis. Some researchers believe that cancer arises from cancer stem cells that originate as a result of mutational hits on normal stem cells, by the transformation of restricted progenitor cells or even the differentiated cells that acquire self-renewing capacity. These cancer stem cells drive tumor progression and recurrence after chemotherapy treatments. Since both normal stem cells and cancer cells possess ability to self-renew, many pathways that are classically associated with cancer are also involved in the regulation of normal stem cell development including Notch, Wnt, Shh and classical pluripotency transcription factor pathways Oct-4, Sox-2 and Nanog.

An Illustration of the Underlying CSC Hypothesis

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Research over recent years have indicated the existence of CSCs in nearly all solid tumors at varying frequencies. A number of cell surface markers have proved useful for isolation and enrichment for CSCs including CD133, CD44, CD24, EpCAM, THY-1 (CD90), ATP-binding cassette B5 (ABCB5), CD200 and the enzyme aldehyde dehydrogenase (ALDH).


Product Highlight:
AldeRed ALDH Detection Assay
Cancer stem cells express elevated levels of aldehyde dehydrogenase (ALDH) and is considered a hallmark of all CSCs. Historically, ALDH levels have been measured using live cell-permeable dyes that emit in the green region of the electromagnetic spectrum (512 nm). Thus, the reagent cannot be simultaneously utilized in cells or mice expressing green-fluorescent proteins emitting in the green fluorescent spectrum. AldeRed is a red-shifted fluorescent substrate for ALDH used for labelling viable ALDH positive cells leaving the green emission channel available for further experimentation.
AldeRed Features and Benefits:
  • Red-shifted assay leaves green channel available for further experimentation
  • Live stem cell identification enables flow sorting of rare cell populations
  • Rapid enzymatic assay protocol
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AldeRed 588-A contains an aldehyde moiety that can serve as a substrate for ALDH.
AldeRed 588-A freely diffuses into cells and becomes trapped in the cytoplasm after the conversion of the aldehyde into the corresponding acid by ALDH. The accumulation of the oxidized AldeRed 588-A causes the subset of ALDHHigh cells to become highly fluorescent. ALDHHigh cells are identified by comparison to baseline fluorescence from DEAB-treated cells.
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ALDH activity in head and neck squamous carcinoma cells UM-SCC-47 (MilliporeSigma Cat. No. SCC071).
AldeRed 588-A reaction was carried according to the standard protocol using 105 cells and a 30-minute incubation time at 37°C. A combination of green laser (532 nm) as the excitation and PE-Texas Red wavelength (615 nm) detector channel was used for the detection of AldeRed 588-A oxidation product.