Wnt signaling is one of the core signaling pathways of cancer stem cells (CSCs). It is re-activated in CSCs and plays essential role in the survival, self-renewal and proliferation of these cells. Therefore, we aimed to evaluate the cytotoxic effects of palladium(II) complex which is formulated as [PdCl(terpy)](sac)2H(2)O and its combination with niclosamide which is an inhibitor of Wnt signaling pathway associated with breast cancer stem cells. Characteristic cell surface markers (CD44(+)/CD24(-)) were determined by flow cytometry in CSCs. ATP viability assay was used to determine the cytotoxic activity. The mode of cell death was evaluated morphologically using fluorescence microscopy and biochemically using M30 ELISA assay as well as performing qPCR. Our study demonstrated that the combination of niclosamide (1.5 mu M) and Pd(II) complex (12.5, 25 and 50 mu M) at 48 h has enhanced cytotoxic activity resulted from the induction of apoptosis (indicated by the presence of pyknotic nuclei, increments in M30 and over expression of proapoptotic genes of TNFRSF10A and FAS). Importantly, the addition of niclosamide resulted in the suppression of autophagy (proved by the decrease in ATG5 gene levels) that might have contributed to the enhanced cytotoxicity. In conclusion, the application of this combination may be regarded as a novel and effective approach for the treatment of breast cancer due to its promising cytotoxic effect on cancer stem cells that cause recurrence of the disease. (C) 2015 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.