Bulk and Single-Cell Transcriptome Analyses Revealed That the Pyroptosis of Glioma-Associated Macrophages Participates in Tumor Progression and Immunosuppression

Oxid Med Cell Longev. 2022 Sep 26:2022:1803544. doi: 10.1155/2022/1803544. eCollection 2022.


Glioma is the most common of all central nervous system (CNS) malignancies and is associated with a poor prognosis. Pyroptosis has been proven to be associated with the progression of multiple tumors and CNS diseases. However, the relationships between pyroptosis and clinical prognosis and immune cell infiltration are unclear in glioma. In this study, we conducted a comprehensive exploration of pyroptosis in glioma. First, prognosis-related genes were screened at each key regulatory locus in the pyroptosis pathway, and the prognostic ability and coexpression relationships of GSDMD and its upstream pathway genes NLRC4/CASP1/CASP4 were identified and well validated in multiple datasets. Tissue microarray-based immunohistochemistry results showed higher levels of NLRC4 and N-terminal GSDMD in high-grade gliomas, providing conclusive evidence of pyroptosis in gliomas. The robustness of the prognostic model based on these four genes was well validated in TCGA and CGGA cohorts. Bulk RNA-seq-based analysis showed that the group defined as the high-risk group according to the model showed activation of multiple inflammatory response pathways and impaired synaptic gene expression and had a higher infiltration of bone marrow-derived macrophages (BMDMs) and a hypersuppressed immune microenvironment. More importantly, three independent single-cell RNA-seq (scRNA-seq) datasets demonstrated that tumor-infiltrating macrophages, particularly BMDMs but not tissue-resident microglia, showed significant coexpression of the GSDMD and CASP genes, and BMDMs from high-grade gliomas accounted for a higher proportion of immune infiltrating cells and had higher expression of pyroptosis genes. Finally, we revealed the activation of pathways in response to LPS/bacteria and oxidative stress during BMDM development toward the pyroptosis cell fate by pseudotime trajectory analysis, suggesting potential BMDM pyroptosis initiators. The above results provide not only novel insights into the pathological mechanisms of glioma but also novel therapeutic targets for glioma, suggesting the potential application of pyroptosis inhibitors (e.g., disulfiram).

MeSH terms

  • Disulfiram
  • Gene Expression Profiling
  • Glioma* / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Immunosuppression Therapy
  • Lipopolysaccharides / metabolism
  • Macrophages / metabolism
  • Pyroptosis* / genetics
  • Single-Cell Analysis
  • Tumor Microenvironment


  • Lipopolysaccharides
  • Disulfiram