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Oxidative Medicine and Cellular Longevity
Volume 2015 (2015), Article ID 425708, 13 pages
Review Article

Antioxidant Mechanisms and ROS-Related MicroRNAs in Cancer Stem Cells

Department of Life and Reproduction Sciences, Biochemistry Section, University of Verona, Strada Le Grazie 8, 37134 Verona, Italy

Received 9 December 2014; Revised 19 March 2015; Accepted 16 April 2015

Academic Editor: Michal Wozniak

Copyright © 2015 Ilaria Dando 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.


Increasing evidence indicates that most of the tumors are sustained by a distinct population of cancer stem cells (CSCs), which are responsible for growth, metastasis, invasion, and recurrence. CSCs are typically characterized by self-renewal, the key biological process allowing continuous tumor proliferation, as well as by differentiation potential, which leads to the formation of the bulk of the tumor mass. CSCs have several advantages over the differentiated cancer cell populations, including the resistance to radio- and chemotherapy, and their gene-expression programs have been shown to correlate with poor clinical outcome, further supporting the relevance of stemness properties in cancer. The observation that CSCs possess enhanced mechanisms of protection from reactive oxygen species (ROS) induced stress and a different metabolism from the differentiated part of the tumor has paved the way to develop drugs targeting CSC specific signaling. In this review, we describe the role of ROS and of ROS-related microRNAs in the establishment and maintenance of self-renewal and differentiation capacities of CSCs.