1. Department of Biomedical Sciences, City University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong, China.
2. CityU Shenzhen Research Institute, Nanshan, Shenzhen, China.
Lipids, the basic components of the cell membrane, execute fundamental roles in almost all the cell activities including cell-cell recognition, signalling transduction and energy supplies. Lipid metabolism is elementary for life sustentation that balances activity between synthesis and degradation. An accumulating amount of data has indicated abnormal lipid metabolism in cancer stem cells (CSCs), and that the alteration of lipid metabolism exerts a great impact on CSCs' properties such as the capability of self-renewal, differentiation, invasion, metastasis, and drug sensitivity and resistance. CSCs' formation and maintenance cannot do without the regulation of fatty acids and cholesterol. In normal cells and embryonic development, fatty acids and cholesterol metabolism are regulated by some important signalling pathways (such as Hedgehog, Notch, Wnt signalling pathways); these signalling pathways also play crucial roles in initiating and/or maintaining CSCs' properties, and such signalling is shown to be commonly modulated by the abnormal lipid metabolism in CSCs; on the other hand, the altered lipid metabolism in turn modifies the cell signalling and generates additional impacts on CSCs. Metabolic rewiring is considered as an ideal hallmark of CSCs, and metabolic alterations would be promising therapeutic targets of CSCs for aggressive tumors. In this review, we summarize the most updated findings of lipid metabolic abnormalities in CSCs and prospect the potential applications of targeting lipid metabolism for anticancer treatment.
Keywords: Cancer stem cells, lipid metabolism, signalling pathways, self-renewal