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Br J Cancer. 1994 Aug;70(2):199-203.

Control of human glioma cell growth, migration and invasion in vitro by transforming growth factor beta 1.

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Department of Neuropathology, Institute of Psychiatry, London, UK.


Factors involved in the control of the biological properties of gliomas, the major form of brain tumour in man, are poorly documented. We investigated the role of transforming growth factor beta 1 (TGF-beta 1) in the control of proliferation of human glioma cell lines as well as normal human fetal brain cells. The data presented show that TGF-beta 1 exerts a growth-inhibitory action on both human fetal brain cells and three cell lines derived from human glioma of different grades of malignancy. In addition, this growth-inhibitory effect is dose dependent and serum independent. Since TGF-beta 1 is known to be involved in the control of cell migration during ontogenesis and oncogenesis, we investigated the role of this factor in the motile and invasive behaviour that characterises human gliomas in vivo. TGF-beta 1 was found to elicit a strong stimulation of migration and invasiveness of glioma cells in vitro. In combination with recent data showing an inverse correlation between TGF-beta 1 expression in human gliomas and survival, these findings may suggest that TGF-beta 1 plays an important role in the malignant progression of gliomas in man. A study of the molecular mechanisms involved in the antiproliferative action and the invasion-promoting action of TGF-beta 1 may help to identify new targets in therapy for brain tumours. A combined antiproliferative and anti-invasive therapy could be envisaged.

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