Enrichment of prostate cancer stem-like cells from human prostate cancer cell lines by culture in serum-free medium and chemoradiotherapy.

Research paper by Lei L Wang, Xing X Huang, Xinmin X Zheng, Xinghuan X Wang, Shiwen S Li, Lin L Zhang, Zhonghua Z Yang, Zhiping Z Xia

Indexed on: 20 Jun '13Published on: 20 Jun '13Published in: International journal of biological sciences


The discovery of rare subpopulations of cancer stem cells (CSCs) has created a new focus in cancer research. As CSCs demonstrate resistance to chemoradiation therapy relative to other cancer cells, this allows the enrichment of CSC populations by killing apoptosis-susceptible cancer cells. In this study, three commonly used human prostate cancer (PCa) cell lines (DU145, PC-3 and LNCaP) were examined for their expression of the putative stem cell markers CD133 and CD44 via flow cytometric analysis. Under normal culture conditions, CD133(+)/CD44(+) cells were only present in the DU145 cell line, and comprised only a minor percentage (0.1% ± 0.01%) of the total population. However, the proportion of these CD133(+)/CD44(+) prostate CSCs could be increased in these cell lines via culture in serum-free medium (SFM), or through chemotherapy or radiotherapy. Indeed, after culture in SFM, the proportion of CD133(+)/CD44(+) cells in DU145 and PC-3 had increased to 10.3% and 3.0%, respectively. Moreover, the proportion had increased to 9.8% enriched by chemotherapy and 3.5% by radiotherapy in DU145. Colony-formation tests, cell invasion assays, and tumor xenografts in BALB/c nude mice were used to evaluate the stem cell properties of CD133(+)/CD44(+) PCa cells that were isolated via fluorescence-activated cell sorting (FACS). CD133(+)/CD44(+) cells had an enhanced colony-formation capability and invasive ability in vitro, and displayed greater tumorigenic properties in vivo. These results demonstrate the presence of CD133(+)/CD44(+) prostate CSCs in established PCa cell lines and that populations of these cells can be enriched by culture in SFM or chemoradiotherapy. Finding novel therapies to override chemoradiation resistance in the prostate CSCs is the key to improve long-term results in PCa management.