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J Neurosci. 2019 May 29;39(22):4387-4402. doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.1118-18.2019. Epub 2019 Mar 29.

CD73 Promotes Glioblastoma Pathogenesis and Enhances Its Chemoresistance via A2B Adenosine Receptor Signaling.

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Department of Microbiology and Immunology.
Arthritis and Clinical Immunology Program, Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma 73104, and.
Department of Biomedical Sciences, Section of Anatomic Pathology, College of Veterinary Medicine, Cornell University, Ithaca, New York 14853.
Department of Pathology and Cell Biology, Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons, Columbia University, New York City, New York 10027.
Department of Microbiology and Immunology,


Glioblastoma (GB) is one of the deadliest brain cancers to afflict humans, and it has a very poor survival rate even with treatment. The extracellular adenosine-generating enzyme CD73 is involved in many cellular functions that can be usurped by tumors, including cell adhesion, proliferation, invasion, and angiogenesis. We set out to determine the role of CD73 in GB pathogenesis. To do this, we established a unique GB mouse model (CD73-FLK) in which we spatially expressed CD73 on endothelial cells in CD73-/- mice. This allowed us to elucidate the mechanism of host CD73 versus GB-expressed CD73 by comparing GB pathogenesis in WT, CD73-/-, and CD73-FLK mice. GB in CD73-/- mice had decreased tumor size, decreased tumor vessel density, and reduced tumor invasiveness compared with GB in WT mice. Interestingly, GBs in CD73-FLK mice were much more invasive and caused complete distortion of the brain morphology. We showed a 20-fold upregulation of A2B AR on GB compared with sham, and its activation induced matrix metalloproteinase-2, which enhanced GB pathogenesis. Inhibition of A2B AR signaling decreased multidrug resistance transporter protein expression, including permeability glycoprotein (P-gp) and multidrug resistance-associated protein 1 (MRP1). Further, we showed that blockade of A2B AR signaling potently increased GB cell death induced by the chemotherapeutic drug temozolomide. Together, these findings suggest that CD73 and A2B AR play a multifaceted role in GB pathogenesis and progression and that targeting the CD73-A2B AR axis can benefit GB patients and inform new approaches for therapy to treat GB patients.SIGNIFICANCE STATEMENT Glioblastoma (GB) is the most devastating primary brain tumor. GB patients' median survival is 16 months even with treatment. It is critical that we develop prophylaxes to advance GB treatment and improve patient survival. CD73-generated adenosine has been implicated in cancer pathogenesis, but its role in GB was not ascertained. Here, we demonstrated that host CD73 plays a prominent role in multiple areas of glioblastoma pathogenesis, including promoting GB growth, its angiogenesis, and its invasiveness. We found a 20-fold increase in A2B adenosine receptor (AR) expression on GB compared with sham, and its inhibition increased GB chemosensitivity to temozolomide. These findings strongly indicate that blockade or inhibition of CD73 and the A2B AR are prime targets for future GB therapy.


A2B adenosine receptor; CD73; P-glycoprotein; extracellular adenosine; glioblastoma; glioma chemoresistance

[Available on 2019-11-29]

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