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Biochem Pharmacol. 2004 Aug 15;68(4):689-98.

Peripheral-type benzodiazepine receptor density and in vitro tumorigenicity of glioma cell lines.

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Department of Pharmacology, Rappaport Family Institute for Research in the Medical Sciences, Technion-Israel Institute of Technology, P.O.B. 9649, Bat-Galim, Haifa 31096, Israel.


The peripheral-type benzodiazepine receptor is found primarily on the outer mitochondrial membrane and consists of three subunits: the 18kDa isoquinoline binding protein, the 32kDa voltage-dependent anion channel, and the 30kDa adenine nucleotide transporter. The current study evaluates the potential importance of peripheral-type benzodiazepine receptor expression in glioma cell tumorigenicity. While previous studies have suggested that peripheral-type benzodiazepine receptor-binding may be relatively increased in tumor tissue and cells, so far, little is known about the relationships between peripheral-type benzodiazepine receptor density and factors underlying tumorigenicity. In the present study, we found in glioma cell lines (C6, U87MG, and T98G), that peripheral-type benzodiazepine receptor ligand-binding density is relatively high for C6 and low for T98G, while U87MG displays intermediate levels. Cell growth of these cell lines in soft agar indicated that high levels of peripheral-type benzodiazepine receptor-binding were associated with increased colony size, indicative of their ability to establish anchorage independent cell proliferation. Potential causes for differences in tumorigenicity between these cell lines were suggested by various cell death and proliferation assays. Cell death, including apoptosis, appeared to be low in C6, and high in T98G, while U87MG displayed intermediate levels in this respect. Cell proliferation appeared to be high in C6, low in T98G, and intermediate in U87MG. In conclusion, our study suggests that relatively high peripheral-type benzodiazepine receptor-binding density is associated with enhanced tumorigenicity and cell proliferation rate. In particular, apoptosis appears to be an important tumorigenic determinant in these glioma cell lines. Moreover, application of PBR-specific ligands indicated that PBR indeed are functionally involved in apoptosis in glioma cells.

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