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Cancer Res. 2005 Mar 1;65(5):1934-40.

The excitatory amino acid transporter-2 induces apoptosis and decreases glioma growth in vitro and in vivo.

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The Brain Tumor Center, Department of Neuro-Oncology, University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, Texas 77030, USA.


Accumulating evidence suggests that glutamate plays a key role in the proliferation and invasion of glioblastoma tumors. Astrocytic tumors have been shown to release glutamate at high levels, which may stimulate tumor cell proliferation and motility via activation of glutamate receptors. Excess glutamate has also been found to facilitate tumor invasion by causing excitotoxic damage to normal brain thereby paving a pathway for tumor migration. Results from tissue microarray analyses showed decreased excitatory amino acid transporter-2 (EAAT-2) expression in high-grade glial tumors compared with low-grade astrocytomas and normal brain. EAAT-2 expression was inversely correlated with tumor grade, implicating its potential role in glial tumor progression, which was reflected by an undetectable level of EAAT-2 protein in glioma cell lines. In this study, we sought to investigate the effect of reconstituted EAAT-2 on glioma cell growth in vitro and in vivo by adenoviral-mediated gene transfer. Infection of glioma cells with Ad-EAAT-2 resulted in a physiologic level of functional EAAT-2, and a subsequent dose-dependent reduction in cell proliferation in all glioma cell lines tested compared with controls. Interestingly, results from analyses of Annexin V staining, detection of poly(ADP-ribose)polymerase cleavage and caspase-3 activation all indicated that Ad-EAAT-2 infection elicited apoptosis in glioma cells. Ex vivo experiments in nude mice showed a total suppression of tumor growth at sites that received Ad-EAAT-2-infected cells. Collectively, our results uncovered a new function of EAAT-2 in controlling glioma proliferation. Further studies will improve our knowledge of the role of glutamate in glioma growth and may provide useful prognostic information and alternative therapeutic targets for the treatment of glioma.

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