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International Journal of Nephrology
Volume 2011, Article ID 286985, 6 pages
Review Article

Resident Stem Cells and Renal Carcinoma

Laboratory of Renal and Vascular Physiopathology, Department of Internal Medicine, Molecular Biotechnology Centre and Research Centre for Molecular Medicine, University of Turin, Cso Dogliotti 14, 10126 Turin, Italy

Received 13 January 2011; Accepted 16 March 2011

Academic Editor: Alejandro Martín-Malo

Copyright © 2011 Benedetta Bussolati et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


According to the cancer stem cell hypothesis tumors are maintained by a cancer stem cell population which is able to initiate and maintain tumors. Tumor-initiating stem cells display stem or progenitor cell properties such as self-renewal and capacity to re-establish tumors that recapitulate the tumor of origin. In this paper, we discuss data relative to the presence of cancer stem cells in human renal carcinoma and their possible origin from normal resident stem cells. The cancer stem cells identified in human renal carcinomas are not derived from the normal CD133+ progenitors of the kidney, but rather from a more undifferentiated population that retains a mesenchymal phenotype. This population is able to self-renewal, clonogenicity, and in vivo tumor initiation. Moreover, they retain pluripotent differentiation capability, as they can generate not only the epithelial component of the tumor, but also tumor endothelial cells. This suggests that renal cancer stem cells may contribute to the intratumor vasculogenesis.