The autocrine loop of TGF-alpha/EGFR and brain tumors

J Neurooncol. 1997 Dec;35(3):303-14. doi: 10.1023/a:1005824802617.


Malignant human gliomas are the most common forms of primary tumors in the central nerve system. Due to their location and invasive nature, treatment so far has been mainly palliative. Thus, understanding the molecular detail of tumor transformation and progression is crucial for developing effective therapeutic strategy for this fetal tumor. Among the genetic alternations found in these tumors, p53 inactivation and PDGF/PDGFR activation represent the early events, and the loss of chromosome 10 and gene amplification and rearrangement of EGFR represent the late events. Studies with both glioma cell lines and primary tumor tissues have strongly suggested that TGF-alpha and EGFR function as an important autocrine loop in supporting proliferation of human glioma, especially in high grade glioma, since elevated TGF-alpha expression is also found in these high grade tumors. Furthermore, down regulation of the expression of TGF-alpha by antisense constructs has been shown to inhibit several types of human tumor cell growth including glioma. Other means of therapeutic approaches using this autocrine loop as a target also include the use of monoclonal antibodies and their cytotoxic conjugated. Considerable understanding of the EGFR-mediated signal transduction pathways has become available recently, which including GRB2/mSOS1 mediated MAP kinase activation; JAK/STATs pathway; PLC-gamma pathway. However, much work still needs to be done before a specific component of these pathways can be applied for effective control of tumor growth in the clinic.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Brain Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Brain Neoplasms / physiopathology*
  • Epidermal Growth Factor / physiology*
  • ErbB Receptors / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Receptors, Transforming Growth Factor beta / physiology*
  • Transforming Growth Factor alpha / physiology*


  • Receptors, Transforming Growth Factor beta
  • Transforming Growth Factor alpha
  • Epidermal Growth Factor
  • ErbB Receptors