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Lancet. 1982 Apr 17;1(8277):885-7.

Age-related chemosensitivity of stem cells from human malignant brain tumours.


After radiation therapy and chemotherapy for malignant glioma, patients aged 50 or under survive longer than patients over 50. Data from Brain Tumor Study Group trials show that, without treatment, these age groups have similar survival; therefore unperturbed tumour growth does not account for the difference. Sixteen consecutive patients with malignant glioma were studied, half of whom were less than or equal to 50 years of age; none had been treated before initial surgery, and all were subsequently treated with radiation and chemotherapeutic agents (in all but two patients, with nitrosoureas). Median survival of those aged greater than 50 was less than or equal to 50 years was 54 + weeks whereas that of those aged greater than 50 was 37 weeks. The longer survival for younger patients could not be attributed to tumour type, size, or location, pretreatment Karnofsky status, or mode of treatment. In-vitro sensitivity testing of clonogenic cells obtained from biopsy specimens showed that tumour cells from seven of eight patients aged less than or equal to 50 years were sensitive to 1,3-bis (2-chloroethyl)-1-nitrosourea (greater than 40% cell kill at clinically achievable concentrations) compared with only one patient with sensitive cells out of eight older patients. Patient age was inversely correlated with in-vitro cell kill, and patients with sensitive cells were significantly younger than those with resistant cells. Therefore influence of age on survival after treatment of malignant gliomas is probably due to inherent differences in the sensitivity of clonogenic cells to radiation and/or chemotherapeutic agents.

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