Glioma-initiating cells (GICs), also called glioma stem cells, are responsible for tumor initiation, relapse, and therapeutic resistance. Here, we show that TGF-β inhibitors, currently under clinical development, target the GIC compartment in human glioblastoma (GBM) patients. Using patient-derived specimens, we have determined the gene responses to TGF-β inhibition, which include inhibitors of DNA-binding protein (Id)-1 and -3 transcription factors. We have identified a cell population enriched for GICs that expresses high levels of CD44 and Id1 and tend to be located in a perivascular niche. The inhibition of the TGF-β pathway decreases the CD44(high)/Id1(high) GIC population through the repression of Id1 and Id3 levels, therefore inhibiting the capacity of cells to initiate tumors. High CD44 and Id1 levels confer poor prognosis in GBM patients.
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