Send to

Choose Destination
ACS Chem Neurosci. 2018 Aug 22. doi: 10.1021/acschemneuro.8b00365. [Epub ahead of print]

Direct Reprogramming of Glioblastoma Cells into Neurons Using Small Molecules.

Author information

Department of Biology , University of Victoria , Victoria , BC V8W 2Y2 , Canada.
Division of Medical Sciences , University of Victoria , Victoria , BC V8W 2Y2 , Canada.
Department of Mechanical Engineering , University of Victoria , Victoria , BC V8W 2Y2 , Canada.
Centre for Biomedical Research , University of Victoria , Victoria , BC V8W 2Y2 , Canada.
International Collaboration on Repair Discoveries , University of British Columbia , Vancouver , BC V6T 1Z4 , Canada.


Glioblastoma multiforme, a type of deadly brain cancer, originates most commonly from astrocytes found in the brain. Current multimodal treatments for glioblastoma minimally increase life expectancy, but significant advancements in prognosis have not been made in the past few decades. Here we investigate cellular reprogramming for inhibiting the aggressive proliferation of glioblastoma cells. Cellular reprogramming converts one differentiated cell type into another type based on the principles of regenerative medicine. In this study, we used cellular reprogramming to investigate whether small molecule mediated reprogramming could convert glioblastoma cells into neurons. We investigated a novel method for reprogramming U87MG human glioblastoma cells into terminally differentiated neurons using a small molecule cocktail consisting of forskolin, ISX9, CHIR99021 I-BET 151, and DAPT. Treating U87MG glioblastoma cells with this cocktail successfully reprogrammed the malignant cells into early neurons over 13 days. The reprogrammed cells displayed morphological and immunofluorescent characteristics associated with neuronal phenotypes. Genetic analysis revealed that the chemical cocktail upregulates the Ngn2, Ascl1, Brn2, and MAP2 genes, resulting in neuronal reprogramming. Furthermore, these cells displayed decreased viability and lacked the ability to form high numbers of tumor-like spheroids. Overall, this study validates the use of a novel small molecule cocktail for reprogramming glioblastoma into nonproliferating neurons.


Tissue engineering; cellular reprogramming; differentiation; neuroscience; regenerative medicine

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for American Chemical Society
Loading ...
Support Center