Invasion and dissemination of medulloblastoma within the central nervous system is the principal factor predicting medulloblastoma treatment failure and death. Netrin-1 is an axon guidance factor implicated in tumor and vascular biology, including in invasive behaviors. We found that exogenous netrin-1 stimulated invasion of human medulloblastoma cells and endothelial cells in contrast to VEGF-A, which promoted invasion of endothelial cells but not medulloblastoma cells. Furthermore, medulloblastoma cells expressed endogenous netrin-1 along with its receptors, neogenin and UNC5B. Blockades in endogenous netrin-1, neogenin, or UNC5B reduced medulloblastoma invasiveness. Neogenin blockade inhibited netrin-1-induced endothelial cells tube formation and recruitment of endothelial cells into Matrigel plugs, two hallmarks of angiogenesis. In patients with pediatric medulloblastoma, netrin-1 mRNA levels were increased 1.7-fold in medulloblastoma tumor specimens compared with control specimens from the same patient. Immunohistochemical analyses showed that netrin-1 was elevated in medulloblastoma tumors versus cerebellum controls. Notably, urinary levels of netrin-1 were 9-fold higher in patients with medulloblastoma compared with control individuals. Moreover, urinary netrin-1 levels were higher in patients with invasive medulloblastoma compared with patients with noninvasive medulloblastoma. Finally, we noted that urinary netrin-1 levels diminished after medulloblastoma resection in patients. Our results suggest netrin-1 is a candidate biomarker capable of detecting an invasive, disseminated phenotype in patients with medulloblastoma and predicting their disease status.
©2014 American Association for Cancer Research.