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Anticancer Res. 1998 Jul-Aug;18(4A):2435-47.

Glioma cell adhesion and migration on human brain sections.

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Department of Neurosurgery, University Hospital Eppendorf, Hamburg, Germany.


Within the brain, dissemination of glioma cells follows myelinated fiber tracts and extracellular matrix containing structures such as the basement membranes of blood vessels. These patterns represent the two major routes of invasion frequently observed in clinical disease. Previously, we have characterized the substrates for preferential glioma adhesion and migration on purified ECM protein. In this study sections of human brain from different anatomical regions were used as adhesive substrates and also characterized for the presence and distribution of matrix proteins. Adhesion of marker gene transfected glioma cell suspensions to different regions and anatomical structures of human brain was quantified using a computer assisted image analysis system. Monoclonal antibodies against different adhesion molecules were used to inhibit glioma cell attachment ot specific anatomical structures. In addition, glioma cell aggregates were allowed to adhere to brain sections and single cells were observed to migrate out of these aggregates. Scanning electron microscopy was used to morphologically study the preferred routes of glioma dissemination on brain sections. In brain sections different kinetics of cell adhesion to distinct structures were observed. Within 15 minutes cells adhered and spread on blood vessels and arachnoid tissue containing sections. Choroid plexus and the ventricular wall were also adhesive structures. Adhesion to cortex required 1 hour, while adhesion and spreading on myelinated fiber tracts was retarded and required several hours of incubation. The predominant matrix proteins in small vessels were found to be laminin, collagen type IV, and fibronectin. Choroid plexus and the ependyma showed a similar composition of matrix proteins. Arachnoid fibers contained different types of collagens, predominately type I and III, whereas the only matrix protein identified in the subependyma was fibronectin. Antibodies to the alpha 2, alpha 3, and beta 1 integrin subunits completely blocked adhesion to arachnoid tissue, anti-NCAM inhibited attachment to cortex. Adhesion to blood vessels in brain sections could only be inhibited to 50% by anti-integrin beta 1. Antibodies to the av containing integrin av beta 3 also blocked 50% of adhesion to vessels. Our findings indicate that adhesion of glioma cells to brain sections most rapidly takes place on ECM protein containing regions, especially blood vessels which may serve as guiding structures for glioma dissemination.

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