Send to

Choose Destination
See comment in PubMed Commons below
Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2003 Dec 9;100(25):15178-83. Epub 2003 Nov 26.

Cancerous stem cells can arise from pediatric brain tumors.

Author information

  • 1Division of Biology 139-74, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, CA 91125, USA.


Pediatric brain tumors are significant causes of morbidity and mortality. It has been hypothesized that they derive from self-renewing multipotent neural stem cells. Here, we tested whether different pediatric brain tumors, including medulloblastomas and gliomas, contain cells with properties similar to neural stem cells. We find that tumor-derived progenitors form neurospheres that can be passaged at clonal density and are able to self-renew. Under conditions promoting differentiation, individual cells are multipotent, giving rise to both neurons and glia, in proportions that reflect the tumor of origin. Unlike normal neural stem cells, however, tumor-derived progenitors have an unusual capacity to proliferate and sometimes differentiate into abnormal cells with multiple differentiation markers. Gene expression analysis reveals that both whole tumors and tumor-derived neurospheres express many genes characteristic of neural and other stem cells, including CD133, Sox2, musashi-1, bmi-1, maternal embryonic leucine zipper kinase, and phosphoserine phosphatase, with variation from tumor to tumor. After grafting to neonatal rat brains, tumor-derived neurosphere cells migrate, produce neurons and glia, and continue to proliferate for more than 4 weeks. The results show that pediatric brain tumors contain neural stem-like cells with altered characteristics that may contribute to tumorigenesis. This finding may have important implications for treatment by means of specific targeting of stem-like cells within brain tumors.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article
PubMed Commons home

PubMed Commons

How to join PubMed Commons

    Supplemental Content

    Full text links

    Icon for HighWire Icon for PubMed Central
    Loading ...
    Write to the Help Desk