Oral epithelial stem cells -implications in normal development and cancer metastasis

  • Papagerakis Silvana
  • Pannone Giuseppe
  • Zheng Li
  • About Imad
  • Taqi Nawar
  • Nguyen Nghia P.T.
  • Matossian Margarite
  • Mcalpin Blake
  • Santoro Angela
  • Mchugh Jonathan
  • Prince Mark E
  • Papagerakis Petros

  • Oral squamous cell carcinoma
  • Epithelial stem cells
  • Invasion
  • Metastasis
  • Cancer stem cells
  • Oral mucosa


Oral mucosa is continuously exposed to environmental forces and has to be constantly renewed. Accordingly, the oral mucosa epithelium contains a large reservoir of epithelial stem cells necessary for tissue homeostasis. Despite considerable scientific advances in stem cell behavior in a number of tissues, fewer studies have been devoted to the stem cells in the oral epithelium. Most of oral mucosa stem cells studies are focused on identifying cancer stem cells (CSC) in oral squamous cell carcinomas (OSCCs) among other head and neck cancers. OSCCs are the most prevalent epithelial tumors of the head and neck region, marked by their aggressiveness and invasiveness. Due to their highly tumorigenic properties, it has been suggested that CSC may be the critical population of cancer cells in the development of OSCC metastasis. This review presents a brief overview of epithelium stem cells with implications in oral health, and the clinical implications of the CSC concept in OSCC metastatic dissemination.