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J Neurooncol. 2006 Jan;76(1):39-48.

Isolation and culture of microvascular endothelial cells from gliomas of different WHO grades.

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Department of Neurosurgery, Klinikum Grosshadern, Ludwig-Maximilians-University Munich, Munich, Germany.


Gliomas are the most common intrinsic brain tumors. The degree of vascularization corresponds to malignancy and is related to prognosis. In order to retrieve information about tumor behavior in situ, the use of primary tissue material for experiments is advantageous. With increasing evidence for the importance of microenvironment and vascularization in tumor biology, we concentrated on the isolation of endothelial cells (EC) from primary tumor material to investigate the role of endothelium within tumor tissue. We developed a method for isolation and purification of tumor-derived endothelial cells. EC were isolated and cultivated from normal brain using tissue digestion and Percoll density gradient centrifugation resulting in a <95% of EC culture. For isolation of EC from gliomas of different malignancy grades a combination of tissue digestion, Percoll gradient centrifugation and magnetic bead sorting by anti-CD31, -VE-Cadherin and -CD 105 was employed. This approach provided a purity of <98%. Cells were classified and characterized by testing expression of CD105, CD31, VE-Cadherin, vWF, UEA-1 and measuring DiI-Ac-LDL-uptake. To exclude contamination, staining and negative selection with anti-SMA, -GFAP, and -CD68 was performed. Tumors were histopathologically diagnosed according to WHO classification. We isolated EC from normal brain (NBEC, n = 11), low-grade gliomas WHO II (LGEC, n = 22), and high-grade gliomas WHO III & IV (HGEC, n = 11). There were no clear differences in EC morphology between the different tumor grades. However, a significantly higher proliferation rate of HGEC compared to LGEC was observed as well as distinctive antigen expression. Already in early passages isolated EC showed a rapid change in antigen expression indicating a phenotypic shift under culture conditions. We could establish a protocol for reliable and reproducible isolation and culture of EC from gliomas with different WHO grading. In first phenotypical and functional analyses, NBEC, LGEC and HGEC show remarkable differences. EC from all tumors could be grown in culture. However, passage related changes of EC phenotype demand very early passages to work with.

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