Glioma stem cells: evidence and limitation

Semin Cancer Biol. 2007 Jun;17(3):214-8. doi: 10.1016/j.semcancer.2006.04.002. Epub 2006 May 4.


Gliomas, in particular the high-grade anaplastic glioma and glioblastoma multiforme (GBM), are manifested by morphological, genetic and phenotypic heterogeneity. Most of the studies hitherto have been performed on bulk glioma cells, with limited understanding on the origin and the relative contribution of particular glioma cell populations to glioma growth and progression. Recent studies have demonstrated the existence of a small fraction of glioma cells endowed with features of primitive neural progenitor cells and tumor-initiating function. Such cells have been defined as glioma stem cells. However, questions remain as to whether the currently identified glioma stem cells are the cell-of-origin for glioma initiation and progression, or the results of such processes. In this review, we discuss the current evidence and limitation in identifying glioma stem cells and the potential origin of glioma stem cells in the context of post-natal neural cell regeneration and their transformation mechanisms. The implication of these findings for glioma diagnosis and treatment will also be reviewed.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Glioma / genetics
  • Glioma / pathology*
  • Humans
  • Neoplastic Stem Cells / pathology*
  • Neoplastic Stem Cells / physiology