Cancer has been considered as a stem cell disease. Suspension culture combined with anti-cancer drugs has recently been proposed for isolation of cancer stem cells (CSCs). In the current study, Vincristine as an anti-cancer drug combined with suspension culture was used for isolation and purification of CSCs from human breast cancer cell line (MDA-MB231). The cells were treated with different concentrations of vincristine (0, 2, 4, 6 and 8 ng/ml). Stem cells were identified with the expression of OCT4, nanog, SOX2 and nucleostemin genes by RT-PCR. Mammosphere forming unit was measured upon suspension culture containing EGF, bFGF, LIF, B27, insulin and BSA. The isolated mammospheres were investigated for CD44 expression. Results showed that 4 ng/ml of vincristine for 72 hours could be utilized as the best and most reliable dose which eliminates around 80 % of non-cancer stem cells with no destructive effect on CSCs’ viability (P> 0.05). RT-PCR demonstrated that drug treated cells expressed OCT4, nanog, SOX2 and nucleostemin. Mammosphere formation unit of cells pretreated with vincristine was significantly higher than unpretreated ones (P>0.05). Immunofluorescence staining for CD44 depicted high expression of CSC marker among the isolated mammospheres. Vincristine combined with suspension culture can be considered as an appropriate method to isolate CSC.
KEY WORDS: Cancer stem cell; Vincristine; Suspension culture; MDA-MB231.