Glioblastoma Cell-Derived lncRNA-Containing Exosomes Induce Microglia to Produce Complement C5, Promoting Chemotherapy Resistance

Cancer Immunol Res. 2021 Dec;9(12):1383-1399. doi: 10.1158/2326-6066.CIR-21-0258. Epub 2021 Oct 19.


Glioblastoma (GBM), the most common malignant primary brain cancer in adults, nearly always becomes resistant to current treatments, including the chemotherapeutic temozolomide (TMZ). The long noncoding RNA (lncRNA) TMZ-associated lncRNA in GBM recurrence (lnc-TALC) promotes GBM resistance to TMZ. Exosomes can release biochemical cargo into the tumor microenvironment (TME) or transfer their contents, including lncRNAs, to other cells as a form of intercellular communication. In this study, we found that lnc-TALC could be incorporated into exosomes and transmitted to tumor-associated macrophages (TAM) and could promote M2 polarization of the microglia. This M2 polarization correlated with secretion of the complement components C5/C5a, which occurred downstream of lnc-TALC binding to ENO1 to promote the phosphorylation of p38 MAPK. In addition, C5 promoted the repair of TMZ-induced DNA damage, leading to chemotherapy resistance, and C5a-targeted immunotherapy showed improved efficacy that limited lnc-TALC-mediated TMZ resistance. Our results reveal that exosome-transmitted lnc-TALC could remodel the GBM microenvironment and reduce tumor sensitivity to TMZ chemotherapy, indicating that the lnc-TALC-mediated cross-talk between GBM cells and microglia could attenuate chemotherapy efficacy and pointing to potential combination therapy strategies to overcome TMZ resistance in GBM.See related Spotlight by Zhao and Xie, p. 1372.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Complement C5 / genetics*
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Drug Resistance, Neoplasm / drug effects*
  • Exosomes / genetics*
  • Glioblastoma / drug therapy*
  • Glioblastoma / genetics*
  • Humans
  • Mice
  • Microglia / metabolism*
  • RNA, Long Noncoding / genetics*
  • Transfection
  • Xenograft Model Antitumor Assays


  • Complement C5
  • RNA, Long Noncoding