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Oncology - Surgery

Overexpression of Calcium-Permeable Glutamate Receptors in Glioblastoma Derived Brain Tumor Initiating Cells
Published: Tuesday, October 23, 2012
Author: Michael C. Oh et al.

by Michael C. Oh, Joseph M. Kim, Michael Safaee, Gurvinder Kaur, Matthew Z. Sun, Rajwant Kaur, Anna Celli, Theodora M. Mauro, Andrew T. Parsa

Glioblastoma multiforme is the most malignant type of primary brain tumor with a poor prognosis. These tumors consist of a heterogeneous population of malignant cells, including well-differentiated tumor cells and less differentiated cells with stem cell properties. These cancer stem cells, known as brain tumor initiating cells, likely contribute to glioma recurrence, as they are highly invasive, mobile, resistant to radiation and chemotherapy, and have the capacity to self-renew. Glioblastoma tumor cells release excitotoxic levels of glutamate, which may be a key process in the death of peritumoral neurons, formation of necrosis, local inflammation, and glioma-related seizures. Moreover, elevated glutamate levels in the tumor may act in paracrine and autocrine manner to activate glutamate receptors on glioblastoma tumor cells, resulting in proliferation and invasion. Using a previously described culturing condition that selectively promotes the growth of brain tumor initiating cells, which express the stem cell markers nestin and SOX-2, we characterize the expression of a-amino-3-hydroxy-5-methyl-4-isozolepropionic acid (AMPA)-type glutamate receptor subunits in brain tumor initiating cells derived from glioblastomas. Here we show for the first time that glioblastoma brain tumor initiating cells express high concentrations of functional calcium-permeable AMPA receptors, compared to the differentiated tumor cultures consisting of non-stem cells. Up-regulated calcium-permeable AMPA receptor expression was confirmed by immunoblotting, immunocytochemistry, and intracellular calcium imaging in response to specific agonists. Our findings raise the possibility that glutamate secretion in the GBM tumor microenvironment may stimulate brain tumor derived cancer stem cells.