Acute and fractionated irradiation differentially modulate glioma stem cell division kinetics

Cancer Res. 2013 Mar 1;73(5):1481-90. doi: 10.1158/0008-5472.CAN-12-3429. Epub 2012 Dec 26.


Glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) is one of the most aggressive human malignancies with a poor patient prognosis. Ionizing radiation either alone or adjuvant after surgery is part of standard treatment for GBM but remains primarily noncurative. The mechanisms underlying tumor radioresistance are manifold and, in part, accredited to a special subpopulation of tumorigenic cells. The so-called glioma stem cells (GSC) are bestowed with the exclusive ability to self-renew and repopulate the tumor and have been reported to be less sensitive to radiation-induced damage through preferential activation of DNA damage checkpoint responses and increased capacity for DNA damage repair. During each fraction of radiation, non-stem cancer cells (CC) die and GSCs become enriched and potentially increase in number, which may lead to accelerated repopulation. We propose a cellular Potts model that simulates the kinetics of GSCs and CCs in glioblastoma growth and radiation response. We parameterize and validate this model with experimental data of the U87-MG human glioblastoma cell line. Simulations are conducted to estimate GSC symmetric and asymmetric division rates and explore potential mechanisms for increased GSC fractions after irradiation. Simulations reveal that in addition to their higher radioresistance, a shift from asymmetric to symmetric division or a fast cycle of GSCs following fractionated radiation treatment is required to yield results that match experimental observations. We hypothesize a constitutive activation of stem cell division kinetics signaling pathways during fractionated treatment, which contributes to the frequently observed accelerated repopulation after therapeutic irradiation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Brain Neoplasms / pathology
  • Brain Neoplasms / radiotherapy*
  • Cell Division / radiation effects
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Dose Fractionation, Radiation
  • Glioma / pathology
  • Glioma / radiotherapy*
  • Humans
  • Models, Biological
  • Neoplastic Stem Cells / radiation effects*