Cancer stem cells (CSCs) are a subpopulation of cancer cells responsible for tumor maintenance and relapse due to their ability to resist various anticancer effects. Owing to the resistance of CSCs to the effects of targeted therapy, an alternative strategy that targets post-translational glycosylation may be an improved approach to treat cancer as it disrupts multiple coordinated signaling that maintains the stemness of CSCs. Glucosamine acts as an anticancer agent possibly by inhibiting N-linked glycosylation. The aim of the present study was to investigate the effect of glucosamine on the stemness of breast CSCs, which is regulated by signal transducer and activator of transcription 3 (STAT3) signaling. Human aldehyde dehydrogenase-positive (ALDH+) breast CSCs and MCF7 cells were treated with various concentrations (0.25, 1 or 4 mM) of glucosamine for 24 h. Subsequently, cell viability was determined by performing a trypan blue exclusion assay, pluripotency gene [ALDH 1 family member A1 (ALDH1A1), octamer-binding transcription factor 4 (OCT‑4), and Krüppel-like factor 4 (KLF4)] expression was determined using the reverse transcription-quantitative polymerase chain reaction, and STAT3 and phosphorylated STAT3 (pSTAT3) levels were determined by performing western blot analysis. Furthermore, the number of mammosphere-forming units (MFUs) in ALDH+ breast CSCs and MCF7 cells was determined. It was determined that glucosamine treatment decreased the viability of ALDH+ breast CSCs. Glucosamine treatment also decreased the stemness of ALDH+ breast CSCs and MCF7 cells, as indicated by decreased ALDH1A1, OCT‑4 and KLF4 expression level, and a decreased number of MFUs. This effect of glucosamine may be associated with a decreased pSTAT3/STAT3 ratio, indicating that glucosamine inhibited STAT3 activation; therefore, the results of the present study indicated that glucosamine treatment may be an improved approach to target the stemness of CSCs.
- Aldehyde dehydrogenase 1 family member A1
- Breast cancer stem cells
- Signal transducer and activator of transcription 3
- Stemness genes