Significance: A fraction of tumorigenic cells, also known as tumor initiating or cancer stem cells (CSCs), is thought to drive tumor growth, metastasis, and chemoresistance. However, little is known regarding mechanisms that convey relevant pathways contributing to their self-renewal, proliferation, and differentiation abilities. Recent Advances: Recent works on CSCs provide evidence on the role of redox disruption and regulation of autophagic flux. This has been linked to increased DNA repair capacity and chemoresistance. Critical Issues: The current review summarizes the most recent studies assessing the role of redox homeostasis, autophagy, and chemoresistance in CSCs, including some novel findings on microRNAs and their role in horizontal transfer within cancer cell populations. Future Directions: Rational anticancer therapy and prevention should rely on the fact that cancer is a redox disease with the CSCs being the apex modulated by redox-mediated autophagy.
- cancer stem cells
- DNA damage and repair