Glioblastoma (GBM) is the most fatal primary brain cancer in adults. Despite extensive treatment, tumors inevitably recur, leading to an average survival time shorter than 1.5 years. The 18 kDa translocator protein (TSPO) is abundantly expressed throughout the body including the central nervous system. The expression of TSPO increases in states of inflammation and brain injury due to microglia activation. Not least due to its location in the outer mitochondrial membrane, TSPO has been implicated with a broad spectrum of functions. These include the regulation of proliferation, apoptosis, migration, as well as mitochondrial functions such as mitochondrial respiration and oxidative stress regulation. TSPO is frequently overexpressed in GBM. Its expression level has been positively correlated to WHO grade, glioma cell proliferation, and poor prognosis of patients. Several lines of evidence indicate that TSPO plays a functional part in glioma hallmark features such as resistance to apoptosis, invasiveness, and proliferation. This review provides a critical overview of how TSPO could regulate several aspects of tumorigenesis in GBM, particularly in the context of the hallmarks of cancer proposed by Hanahan and Weinberg in 2011.
Keywords: TSPO; diagnostic marker; glioblastoma; hallmarks of cancer.