Cancer stem cells and angiogenesis

Rolf Bjerkvig*, Mikael Johansson, Hrvoje Miletic, Simone P. Niclou

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

44 Citations (Scopus)


Most cancers contain tumor cells that display stem cell-like characteristics. How and when such cells appear in tumors are not clear, but may involve both stochastic as well as hierarchical events. Most likely, tumor cells that display stem cell-like characteristics can undergo asymmetric cell division giving rise to tumor cells that trigger angiogenic programs. As normal stem cells the cancer stem-like cells seem to adapt to hypoxic environments and will use metabolic pathways that involve increased conversion of glucose to pyruvate and lactate, and a concomitant decrease in mitochondrial metabolism and mitochondrial mass. The molecular pathways responsible for inducing glycolysis are now being explored. These pathways seem to mediate multiple metabolic functions in cancer stem-like cells, leading to a highly migratory and angiogenesis-independent phenotype. Future challenges will be to identify and validate molecular targets involved in anaerobic metabolic pathways active in cancer stem-like cells and to determine how these pathways differ from regulatory pathways involved in normal stem cell function.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)279-284
Number of pages6
JournalSeminars in Cancer Biology
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2009


  • Angiogenesis
  • Cancer stem cells
  • Energy metabolism
  • Glycolysis
  • Tumor progression


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