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J Pathol. 2011 Jul;224(3):344-54. doi: 10.1002/path.2908. Epub 2011 May 27.

The chemokine CXCL12 and its receptor CXCR4 promote glioma stem cell-mediated VEGF production and tumour angiogenesis via PI3K/AKT signalling.

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  • 1Institute of Pathology and Southwest Cancer Center, Southwest Hospital, Third Military Medical University, Chongqing 400038, China.


Chemokines and their receptors are actively involved in inflammation, immune responses, and cancer development. Here we report the detection of CD133(+) glioma stem-like cells (GSCs) co-expressing a chemokine receptor CXCR4 in human primary glioma tissues. These GSCs were located in areas adjacent to tumour vascular capillaries, suggesting an association between GSCs and tumour angiogenesis. To test this hypothesis, we isolated CD133(+) GSCs from surgical specimens of human primary gliomas and glioma cell lines. As compared to CD133(-) cells, CD133(+) GSCs expressed significantly higher levels of CXCR4 mRNA and protein, and migrated more efficiently in response to the CXCR4 ligand CXCL12. In addition, CXCL12 induced vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) production by CD133(+) GSCs via activation of the PI3K/AKT signalling pathway. Furthermore, knocking down of CXCR4 using RNA interference or inhibition of CXCR4 function by an antagonist AMD3100 not only reduced VEGF production by CD133(+) GSCs in vitro, but also attenuated the growth and angiogenesis of tumour xenografts in vivo formed by CD133(+) GSCs in SCID mice. These results indicate that CXCL12 and its receptor CXCR4 promote GSC-initiated glioma growth and angiogenesis by stimulating VEGF production.

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