The cancer stem cell (CSC) theory posits that a small population of cells with stem cell-like features is responsible for tumor growth, resistance, and recurrence in many malignancies. This theory could be a useful paradigm for designing innovative targeted drug therapies. Liver cancer is the fifth most common cancer worldwide, with hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) and cholangiocarcinoma (CCA) as the predominant forms. Hepatic stem/progenitor cells are believed to be the origin of HCCs and CCAs; however, this remains a controversial topic. Aldehyde dehydrogenase (ALDH) is the main enzymatic system responsible for the clearance of acetaldehyde from the hepatocytes in the liver tissue. Therefore, ALDH1 has been suggested to be a potential, biological and CSC marker in liver cancers. We here provide an overview of the current state of knowledge of CSCs in liver and the role of ALDH1 in the development and progression of liver cancers and discuss its potential value as a prognostic and diagnostic biomarker.
Part of the book: Updates in Liver Cancer