Ferritin in glioblastoma

Br J Cancer. 2020 May;122(10):1441-1444. doi: 10.1038/s41416-020-0808-8. Epub 2020 Mar 23.


Elevated levels of serum ferritin (SF) are observed in several types of cancer; however, little is known on the association between ferritin and glioma, the most frequent type of human primary brain tumour. Here we report that GBM patients show significantly increased pre-surgical SF levels (i.e. ferritinaemia) within the SF reference range and a marked ferritin immunoreactivity of resected tumour tissue. Our findings account for an indirect association between ferritin synthesis in glioma-tissue and altered SF levels, which limits the clinical value of SF as a tumour marker in glioma. Importantly, we show for the first time that GBM-derived glioma cells release ferritin in vitro, which exerts an apoptosis-stimulating activity. Albeit the pathophysiologic context of apoptosis induction by a tumour-derived ferritin remains to be defined, our findings account for a distinct growth-regulatory role of these ferritin species in tumour biology.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Apoptosis / genetics
  • Biomarkers, Tumor / blood*
  • Biomarkers, Tumor / genetics
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Cell Proliferation / genetics
  • Female
  • Ferritins / blood*
  • Ferritins / genetics
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Neoplastic / genetics
  • Glioblastoma / blood*
  • Glioblastoma / genetics
  • Glioblastoma / pathology
  • Glioma / blood*
  • Glioma / genetics
  • Glioma / pathology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Paraffin Embedding
  • Signal Transduction / genetics


  • Biomarkers, Tumor
  • Ferritins