Breast cancer stem cells: The role of sex steroid receptors.World J Stem Cells 2019; 11(9):594-603WJ
Breast cancer (BC) is the most common cancer among women, and current available therapies often have high success rates. Nevertheless, BC might acquire drug resistance and sometimes relapse. Current knowledge about the most aggressive forms of BC points to the role of specific cells with stem properties located within BC, the so-called "BC stem cells" (BCSCs). The role of BCSCs in cancer formation, growth, invasiveness, therapy resistance and tumor recurrence is becoming increasingly clear. The growth and metastatic properties of BCSCs are regulated by different pathways, which are only partially known. Sex steroid receptors (SSRs), which are involved in BC etiology and progression, promote BCSC proliferation, dedifferentiation and migration. However, in the literature, there is incomplete information about their roles. Particularly, there are contrasting conclusions about the expression and role of the classical BC hormonal biomarkers, such as estrogen receptor alpha (ERα), together with scant, albeit promising information concerning ER beta (ERβ) and androgen receptor (AR) properties that control different transduction pathways in BCSCs. In this review, we will discuss the role that SRs expressed in BCSCs play to BC progression and recurrence and how these findings have opened new therapeutic possibilities.