Modeling Patient-Derived Glioblastoma with Cerebral Organoids

Cell Rep. 2019 Mar 19;26(12):3203-3211.e5. doi: 10.1016/j.celrep.2019.02.063.


The prognosis of patients with glioblastoma (GBM) remains dismal, with a median survival of approximately 15 months. Current preclinical GBM models are limited by the lack of a "normal" human microenvironment and the inability of many tumor cell lines to accurately reproduce GBM biology. To address these limitations, we have established a model system whereby we can retro-engineer patient-specific GBMs using patient-derived glioma stem cells (GSCs) and human embryonic stem cell (hESC)-derived cerebral organoids. Our cerebral organoid glioma (GLICO) model shows that GSCs home toward the human cerebral organoid and deeply invade and proliferate within the host tissue, forming tumors that closely phenocopy patient GBMs. Furthermore, cerebral organoid tumors form rapidly and are supported by an interconnected network of tumor microtubes that aids in the invasion of normal host tissue. Our GLICO model provides a system for modeling primary human GBM ex vivo and for high-throughput drug screening.

Keywords: brain tumors; cancer stem cells; cerebral organoids; glioblastoma; glioma; glioma stem cells; human embryonic stem cells; stem-cell-based disease models; tissue engineering; tumor microtubes.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Brain Neoplasms / metabolism*
  • Brain Neoplasms / pathology
  • Glioblastoma / metabolism*
  • Glioblastoma / pathology
  • Humans
  • Models, Biological*
  • Neoplasm Invasiveness
  • Neoplastic Stem Cells / metabolism*
  • Neoplastic Stem Cells / pathology
  • Organoids / metabolism*
  • Organoids / pathology