Background: Glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) is the most frequently encountered brain cancer. Although the existence of cancer stem cells in GBM has been previously established, there is little evidence to explain the difference between cancer stem cells and radio-resistant cells in GBM. In an effort to increase our understanding of whether cellular radio-resistance is a characteristic associated with cancer stem cells, we developed a dissociated cell system of subpopulations derived from GBM, and demonstrated radiotherapy resistance therein.
Results: The radio-resistant cancer cell subpopulations of GBM abundantly express CD133, CD117, CD71, and CD45 surface markers, and these radio-resistant cancer cell subpopulations have the capacity for extensive proliferation, self-renewal, and pluripotency. These radio-resistant cancer subpopulations have been shown to initiate tumorigenesis when transplanted into SCID mouse brains. Moreover, these tumors evidenced highly peculiar nest-like shapes harboring both vascular and cancerous tissue structures, which expressed the blood vessel specific marker, the von Willebrand factor. Accordingly, subpopulations of radio-resistant cells in GBM have been shown to be very similar to hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs) in the circulating blood. This similarity may contribute to increased tumor growth and GBM recurrence.
Conclusion: The results of the present study provide further evidence for radio resistant subpopulations of cancer stem cells in GBM. Also, our results will assist in the identification and characterization of cancer stem cell populations in glioma, and will help to improve the therapeutic outcomes of GBM.