Affiliation: Cancer Care Centre, St George Hospital, Gray St, Kogarah, Sydney, NSW 2217, Australia.
There is currently no cure for metastatic castration-resistant prostate cancer (CRPC). Chemoresistance and metastatic disease remain the main causes of treatment failure and mortality in CaP patients. Although several advances have been made in the control of CRPC with some newly developed drugs, there is still an urgent need to investigate the mechanisms and pathways of prostate cancer (CaP) metastasis and chemoresistance, identify useful therapeutic targets, develop novel treatment approaches, improve current therapeutic modalities and increase patients' survival. Cancer stem cells (CSCs), a minority population of cancer cells characterised by self-renewal and tumor initiation, have gained intense attention as they not only play a crucial role in cancer recurrence but also contribute substantially to chemoresistance. As such, a number of mechanisms in chemoresistance have been identified to be associated with CSCs. Therefore, a thorough and integral understanding of these mechanisms can identify novel biomarkers and develop innovative therapeutic strategies for CaP treatment. Our recent data have demonstrated CSCs are associated with CaP chemosensitivity. In this review, we discuss the roles of putative CSC markers in CaP chemoresistance and elucidate several CSC-associated signaling pathways such as PI3K/Akt/mTOR, Wnt/β-catenin and Notch pathways in the regulation of CaP chemoresistance. Moreover, we will summarize emerging and innovative approaches for the treatment of CRPC and address the challenging CRPC that is driven by CSCs. Understanding the link between CSCs and metastatic CRPC will facilitate the development of novel therapeutic approaches to overcome chemoresistance and improve the clinical outcomes of CaP patients.