Role of CX3CR1 signaling in malignant transformation of gliomas

Neuro Oncol. 2020 Oct 14;22(10):1463-1473. doi: 10.1093/neuonc/noaa075.


Background: Chemokine signaling may contribute to progression of low-grade gliomas (LGGs) by altering tumor behavior or impacting the tumor microenvironment. In this study, we investigated the role of CX3C chemokine receptor 1 (CX3CR1) signaling in malignant transformation of LGGs.

Methods: Ninety patients with LGGs were genotyped for the presence of common CX3CR1 V249I polymorphism and examined for genotype-dependent alterations in survival, gene expression, and tumor microenvironment. A genetically engineered mouse model was leveraged to model endogenous intracranial gliomas with targeted expression of CX3C ligand 1 (CX3CL1) and CX3CR1, individually or in combination.

Results: LGG patients who were heterozygous (V/I; n = 43) or homozygous (I/I; n = 2) for the CX3CR1 V249I polymorphism had significantly improved median overall (14.8 vs 9.8 y, P < 0.05) and progression-free survival (8.6 vs 6.5 y, P < 0.05) compared with those with the wild type genotype (V/V; n = 45). Tumors from the V/I + I/I group exhibited significantly decreased levels of CCL2 and MMP9 transcripts, correlating with reduced intratumoral M2 macrophage infiltration and microvessel density. In an immunocompetent mouse model of LGGs, coexpression of CX3CL1 and CX3CR1 promoted a more malignant tumor phenotype characterized by increased microglia/macrophage infiltration and microvessel density, resulting in shorter survival.

Conclusions: CX3CR1 V249I polymorphism is associated with improved overall and progression-free survival in LGGs. CX3CR1 signaling enhances accumulation of tumor associated microglia/macrophages and angiogenesis during malignant transformation.

Keywords: CX3CR1; glioma; malignant transformation; polymorphism; tumor microenvironment.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • CX3C Chemokine Receptor 1 / genetics
  • Cell Transformation, Neoplastic / genetics
  • Glioma* / genetics
  • Humans
  • Mice
  • Receptors, Chemokine* / genetics
  • Signal Transduction
  • Tumor Microenvironment


  • CX3C Chemokine Receptor 1
  • CX3CR1 protein, human
  • Cx3cr1 protein, mouse
  • Receptors, Chemokine