Colorectal cancer (CRC) is one of the most common cancers
worldwide. The development of resistance to anti-cancer treatment is one of the
major challenges in the treatment of CRC, which limits the efficacy of both
conventional and targeted therapies in clinical settings. Understanding the
mechanisms underpinning resistances is therefore critical in developing novel
agents to reverse drug resistance and for more specific targeted treatments.
Accumulating studies have reported that microRNAs (miRNAs) are key players in
the regulation of cancer cells with intrinsic/acquired drug resistance through
varied mechanisms that endow cells with a drug-resistant phenotype. miRNAs
have been evolved in the regulation of chemoresistance to various CRC
treatments and the stemness of CRC stem cells (CRSCs), sequentially modulating the sensitivity of
CRC cells to anti-cancer treatments. Targeting miRNAs may be a novel strategy for eradicating
CRSCs, re-sensitizing drug-resistant cells to anti-cancer agents, improving drug efficiency and
developing novel biological agents for CRC treatment. This paper highlights the role of miRNAs in
the regulation of chemoresistance and CRSCs in CRC, with focus on the mechanisms underlying how
miRNAs alter CRSCs fate, and the process of epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition, cell cycle and
apoptosis in CRC cells.
Keywords: Cancer stem cells, chemoresistance, colorectal cancer, microRNA, targeted therapy.
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