The Central Contributions of Breast Cancer Stem Cells in Developing Resistance to Endocrine Therapy in Estrogen Receptor (ER)-Positive Breast Cancer Academic Article uri icon

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abstract

  • Breast cancer stem cells (BCSC) play critical roles in the acquisition of resistance to endocrine therapy in estrogen receptor (ER)-positive (ER + ve) breast cancer (BC). The resistance results from complex alterations involving ER, growth factor receptors, NOTCH, Wnt/β-catenin, hedgehog, YAP/TAZ, and the tumor microenvironment. These mechanisms are likely converged on regulating BCSCs, which then drive the development of endocrine therapy resistance. In this regard, hormone therapies enrich BCSCs in ER + ve BCs under both pre-clinical and clinical settings along with upregulation of the core components of “stemness” transcriptional factors including SOX2, NANOG, and OCT4. SOX2 initiates a set of reactions involving SOX9, Wnt, FXY3D, and Src tyrosine kinase; these reactions stimulate BCSCs and contribute to endocrine resistance. The central contributions of BCSCs to endocrine resistance regulated by complex mechanisms offer a unified strategy to counter the resistance. ER + ve BCs constitute approximately 75% of BCs to which hormone therapy is the major therapeutic approach. Likewise, resistance to endocrine therapy remains the major challenge in the management of patients with ER + ve BC. In this review we will discuss evidence supporting a central role of BCSCs in developing endocrine resistance and outline the strategy of targeting BCSCs to reduce hormone therapy resistance.

publication date

  • July 22, 2019