Cancer Stem Cells and the Tumor Microenvironment: Targeting the Critical Crosstalk through Nanocarrier Systems

Aadya Nayak, Neerada Meenakshi Warrier, Praveen Kumar

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


The physiological state of the tumor microenvironment (TME) plays a central role in cancer development due to multiple universal features that transcend heterogeneity and niche specifications, like promoting cancer progression and metastasis. As a result of their preponderant involvement in tumor growth and maintenance through several microsystemic alterations, including hypoxia, oxidative stress, and acidosis, TMEs make for ideal targets in both diagnostic and therapeutic ventures. Correspondingly, methodologies to target TMEs have been investigated this past decade as stratagems of significant potential in the genre of focused cancer treatment. Within targeted oncotherapy, nanomedical derivates—nanocarriers (NCs) especially—have emerged to present notable prospects in enhancing targeting specificity. Yet, one major issue in the application of NCs in microenvironmental directed therapy is that TMEs are too broad a spectrum of targeting possibilities for these carriers to be effectively employed. However, cancer stem cells (CSCs) might portend a solution to the above conundrum: aside from being quite heavily invested in tumorigenesis and therapeutic resistance, CSCs also show self-renewal and fluid clonogenic properties that often define specific TME niches. Further scrutiny of the relationship between CSCs and TMEs also points towards mechanisms that underly tumoral characteristics of metastasis, malignancy, and even resistance. This review summarizes recent advances in NC-enabled targeting of CSCs for more holistic strikes against TMEs and discusses both the current challenges that hinder the clinical application of these strategies as well as the avenues that can further CSC-targeting initiatives. Graphical abstract: Central role of CSCs in regulation of cellular components within the TME [Figure not available: see fulltext.].

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2209-2233
Number of pages25
JournalStem Cell Reviews and Reports
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 10-2022

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Cell Biology
  • Cancer Research


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