Tumor microvasculature supports proliferation and expansion of glioma-propagating cells

Int J Cancer. 2009 Sep 1;125(5):1222-30. doi: 10.1002/ijc.24408.


Glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) is the most common and aggressive primary brain tumor. The identification of 'cancer stem cells' (CSC) has shed new light on the potential mechanism of therapy resistance of these tumors. Because these cells appear to be more resistant to conventional treatments, they are thought to drive tumor regrowth after therapy. Therefore, novel therapeutic approaches that target these cells are needed. Tumor cells interact with their microenvironment. It has been reported that close contact between CSCs and tumor microvascular endothelium in GBM is important for CSCs to preserve their undifferentiated state and self-renewal ability. However, our understanding of this interaction is still rudimentary. This is in part due to a lack of suitable in vitro models that accurately represent the in vivo situation. Therefore, we set up a co-culture system consisting of primary brain tumor microvascular endothelial cells (tMVECs) and glioma propagating cells (GPCs) derived from biopsies of GBM patients. We found that tMVECs support the growth of GPCs resulting in higher proliferation rates comparing to GPCs cultured alone. This effect was dependent on direct contact between the 2 cell types. In contrast to GPCs, the FCS-cultured cell line U87 was stimulated by culturing on tMVEC-derived ECM alone, suggesting that both cell types interact different with their microenvironment. Together, these results demonstrate the feasibility and utility of our system to model the interaction of GPCs with their microenvironment. Identification of molecules that mediate this interaction could provide novel targets for directed therapy for GBM.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Brain Neoplasms / blood supply*
  • Brain Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Cell Culture Techniques
  • Cell Proliferation*
  • Coculture Techniques
  • Endothelium, Vascular / physiology*
  • Glioblastoma / blood supply*
  • Glioblastoma / pathology*
  • Humans
  • Immunoenzyme Techniques
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred NOD
  • Mice, SCID
  • Spheroids, Cellular / transplantation