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Neurosurgery. 2012 Jan;70(1):198-204; discussion 204. doi: 10.1227/NEU.0b013e31822ce963.

Retroviral delivery of platelet-derived growth factor to spinal cord progenitor cells drives the formation of intramedullary gliomas.

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Department of Neurological Surgery, Columbia University Medical Center, New York, New York 10032, USA.



High-grade gliomas of the spinal cord are poorly understood tumors that are very commonly associated with bad outcomes. The transforming effects of platelet-derived growth factor (PDGF) on spinal cord glial progenitor cells may play an important role in the development of these tumors.


To investigate the possible tumor-initiating effects of PDGF overexpression in the spinal cord, we delivered a PDGF retrovirus directly into the substance of the spinal cord.


The spinal cords of wild-type adult rats were surgically exposed and injected with 10⁶ colony-forming units of a green fluorescent protein-tagged, PDGF-expressing retrovirus. A control virus was injected to assess the cell types that become infected during retroviral delivery to the spinal cord.


It was observed that PDGF overexpression in the spinal cord causes morbidity from high-grade intramedullary glioma formation between 27 and 49 days after PDGF retrovirus injection. Retroviral transduction was highly efficient with 100% of injected animals displaying the tumor phenotype. The tumors produced were highly proliferative, were locally invasive, and displayed the immunophenotype of virus-targeted glial progenitor cells (Olig2+PDGFR+NG2+GFAP-).


PDGF is capable of driving glial progenitor cells within the adult spinal cord to form high-grade gliomas. Further investigation of PDGF signaling in the spinal cord is needed to better understand and treat these devastating tumors.

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