Comparison of glioblastoma (GBM) molecular classification methods

Semin Cancer Biol. 2018 Dec:53:201-211. doi: 10.1016/j.semcancer.2018.07.006. Epub 2018 Jul 19.


Glioblastoma (GBM) is the most aggressive and common form of brain cancer in adults. GBM is characterized by poor survival and remarkably high tumors heterogeneity (both intertumoral and intratumoral), and lack of effective therapies. Recent high-throughput data revealed heterogeneous genetic/genomic/epigenetic features and led to multiple methods aiming to classify tumors according to the key molecular events that drive the most aggressive cellular components so that targeted therapies can be developed for individual subtypes. However, GBM molecular subtypes have not led to improvement of patients outcomes. Targeted or tailored therapies for specific mutations or subtypes largely failed due to the complexities arising from intratumoral molecular heterogeneity. Most tumors develop resistance to treatment and soon recur. GBM stem cells (GSCs) have been identified. Recent single cell sequencing studies of GBM suggest that intratumoral cellular heterogeneity can be partially explained by tumor cell hierarchy arising from GBM stem cells. Therefore, the molecular subtypes based on patient derived GSCs may potentially lead to more effective subtype-specific treatments. In this paper, we review the molecular alterations of GBM and molecular subtyping methods as well as subtype plasticity in primary and recurrent tumors emphasizing the clinical relevance of potential targets for further drug development.

Keywords: GBM stem cells; Glioblastoma (GBM); Molecular subtypes; Tumor microenviroment.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Brain Neoplasms / classification
  • Brain Neoplasms / genetics*
  • Brain Neoplasms / therapy
  • Epigenomics / methods*
  • Gene Expression Profiling / methods
  • Genomics / methods*
  • Glioblastoma / classification
  • Glioblastoma / genetics*
  • Glioblastoma / therapy
  • Humans
  • Immunotherapy / methods
  • Immunotherapy / trends
  • Molecular Targeted Therapy / methods
  • Molecular Targeted Therapy / trends
  • Neoplastic Stem Cells / metabolism*