Aberrantly activated Cox-2 and Wnt signaling interact to maintain cancer stem cells in glioblastoma

Oncotarget. 2017 Jul 17;8(47):82217-82230. doi: 10.18632/oncotarget.19283. eCollection 2017 Oct 10.


Glioblastoma recurrence after aggressive therapy typically occurs within six months, and patients inevitably succumb to their disease. Tumor recurrence is driven by a subpopulation of cancer stem cells in glioblastoma (glioblastoma stem-like cells, GSCs), which exhibit resistance to cytotoxic therapies, compared to their non-stem-cell counterparts. Here, we show that the Cox-2 and Wnt signaling pathways are aberrantly activated in GSCs and interact to maintain the cancer stem cell identity. Cox-2 stimulates GSC self-renewal and proliferation through prostaglandin E2 (PGE2), which in turn activates the Wnt signaling pathway. Wnt signaling underlies PGE2-induced GSC self-renewal and independently directs GSC self-renewal and proliferation. Inhibition of PGE2 enhances the effect of temozolomide on GSCs, but affords only a modest survival advantage in a xenograft model in the setting of COX-independent Wnt activation. Our findings uncover an aberrant positive feedback interaction between the Cox-2/PGE2 and Wnt pathways that mediates the stem-like state in glioblastoma.

Keywords: Wnt; cancer stem cells; cyclooxygenase; glioblastoma; prostaglandin E2.