Aldehyde dehydrogenase 1 is a putative marker for cancer stem cells in head and neck squamous cancer

Yu Chih Chen, Yi Wei Chen, Han Shui Hsu, Ling Ming Tseng, Pin I. Huang, Kai Hsi Lu, Dow Tien Chen, Lung Kuo Tai, Ming Chi Yung, Shih Ching Chang, Hung Hai Ku, Shih Hwa Chiou, Wen Liang Lo

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411 Citations (Scopus)


Aldehyde dehydrogenase 1 (ALDH1) has been considered to be a marker for cancer stem cells. However, the role of ALDH1 in head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC) has yet to be determined. In this study, we isolated ALDH1-positive cells from HNSCC patients and showed that these HNSCC-ALDH1+ cells displayed radioresistance and represented a reservoir for generating tumors. Based on microarray findings, the results of Western blotting and immunofluorescent assays further confirmed that ALDH1+-lineage cells showed evidence of having epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) shifting and endogenously co-expressed Snail. Furthermore, the knockdown of Snail expression significantly decreased the expression of ALDH1, inhibited cancer stem-like properties, and blocked the tumorigenic abilities of CD44+CD24-ALDH1+ cells. Finally, in a xenotransplanted tumorigenicity study, we confirmed that the treatment effect of chemoradiotherapy for ALDH1+ could be improved by Snail siRNA. In summary, it is likely that ALDH1 is a specific marker for the cancer stem-like cells of HNSCC.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)307-313
Number of pages7
JournalBiochemical and Biophysical Research Communications
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Jul 31 2009
Externally publishedYes


  • Aldehyde dehydrogenase 1
  • Cancer stem cell
  • Head and neck squamous cancer

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biophysics
  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


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