Cancer stem cells (CSCs) are involved in metastatic colorectal cancer recurrence, but no effective therapy targeting these cells is currently available. Because trifluridine (FTD)/tipiracil therapy is used for refractory colorectal cancer, we sought to determine whether FTD is effective against CSC-like cells. CD44+CD133+ high-expressing and other populations of human DLD-1 colon cancer cells were separately isolated through fluorescence-activated cell sorting. The sphere-forming activity of each population and the anti-sphere-forming effects of FTD and fluorouracil (5-FU) on CD44+CD133+ cells were then measured. CD44+CD133+ DLD-1 cells formed substantially more spheres than other cells. Moreover, treating CD44+CD133+ DLD-1 cells with subtoxic concentrations of FTD (1 µM) inhibited sphere formation, and this was superior to the effect of subtoxic concentrations (1 µM) of 5-FU. The associated inhibition rates for FTD and 5-FU were 58.2% and 26.1%, respectively. Further, CD44+CD133+ DLD-1 cells expressed higher levels of thymidine kinase 1, which is responsible for FTD phosphorylation, than DLD-1 cells, and FTD was incorporated into the DNA of CD44+CD133+ DLD-1 cells. Thus, our data show that FTD treatment is effective against CSC-like cells and might be applied as CSC-targeting chemotherapy for tumor subtypes with high CD44 and CD133 expression.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes