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Cancer Res. 2006 Aug 15;66(16):7843-8.

Stem cell-like glioma cells promote tumor angiogenesis through vascular endothelial growth factor.

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Department of Surgery, Preston Robert Tisch Brain Tumor Center, Molecular Cancer Biology Program, Duke University Medical Center, Durham, NC 27710, USA.


Malignant gliomas are highly lethal cancers dependent on angiogenesis. Critical tumor subpopulations within gliomas share characteristics with neural stem cells. We examined the potential of stem cell-like glioma cells (SCLGC) to support tumor angiogenesis. SCLGC isolated from human glioblastoma biopsy specimens and xenografts potently generated tumors when implanted into the brains of immunocompromised mice, whereas non-SCLGC tumor cells isolated from only a few tumors formed secondary tumors when xenotransplanted. Tumors derived from SCLGC were morphologically distinguishable from non-SCLGC tumor populations by widespread tumor angiogenesis, necrosis, and hemorrhage. To determine a potential molecular mechanism for SCLGC in angiogenesis, we measured the expression of a panel of angiogenic factors secreted by SCLGC. In comparison with matched non-SCLGC populations, SCLGC consistently secreted markedly elevated levels of vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), which were further induced by hypoxia. In an in vitro model of angiogenesis, SCLGC-conditioned medium significantly increased endothelial cell migration and tube formation compared with non-SCLGC tumor cell-conditioned medium. The proangiogenic effects of glioma SCLGC on endothelial cells were specifically abolished by the anti-VEGF neutralizing antibody bevacizumab, which is in clinical use for cancer therapy. Furthermore, bevacizumab displayed potent antiangiogenic efficacy in vivo and suppressed growth of xenografts derived from SCLGC but limited efficacy against xenografts derived from a matched non-SCLGC population. Together these data indicate that stem cell-like tumor cells can be a crucial source of key angiogenic factors in cancers and that targeting proangiogenic factors from stem cell-like tumor populations may be critical for patient therapy.

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