Salinomycin – a breakthrough in the treatment of ovarian cancer?
Affiliation and adress for correspondence

1 Department of Biochemistry, Faculty of Chemistry, Adam Mickiewicz University, Poznań, Poland
2 Department of Oncology, Poznań University of Medical Sciences, Poznań, Poland
3 Department of Gynecologic Surgery, Poznań University of Medical Sciences, Poznań, Poland
Correspondence: Professor Janina Markowska, MD, PhD, Department of Oncology, Poznań University of Medical Sciences, Szamarzewskiego 82/84, 60-569 Poznań, Poland

Curr Gynecol Oncol 2016, 14 (3), p. 156–161
DOI: 10.15557/CGO.2016.0018

It is believed that cancer stem cells are the primary cause of cancer chemotherapy resistance, metastasis and relapse. The cancer stem cells form a small population of cells present in the tumor (accounting for less than 2% of the tumor mass) and have properties which enable them to survive chemo- and radiotherapy. These cells have the ability to self-renew, do not undergo apoptosis, display overexpression of the ALDH1A1 enzyme and ABC genes which encode transport proteins, and furthermore make use of various signaling pathways (Wnt, Notch, Hedgehog). Cancer stem cells may be identified and isolated from the tumor based on the characteristic biomarkers (CD44+, CD133+, CD117+, BMi1, Oct-4, nestin). It has been demonstrated that salinomycin, an antibiotic obtained from Streptomyces albus, eliminates cancer stem cells, which are resistant to treatment with cytostatics. Salinomycin causes apoptosis of these cells through a number of mechanisms, including the disruption of the Na+/K+ ion balance in biological membranes, inhibition of the Wnt pathway and resistance to transporters, increase in the activity of caspases, activation of the MAPKp38 pathway and inhibition of the nuclear transcription factor NF-κB. Salinomycin has an effect on many types of cancer. It may turn out to be a breakthrough in the therapy of chemotherapy-resistant cancers.

Keywords: cancer stem cells, ovarian cancer, salinomycin