Author(s): Scully S, Francescone R, Faibish M, Bentley B, Taylor SL,
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Abstract Recent evidence has shown that glioblastoma stem-like cells (GSCs) can transdifferentiate into endothelial cells and vascular-like tumor cells. The latter pattern of vascularization indicates an alternative microvascular circulation known as vasculogenic mimicry (VM). However, it remains to be clarified how the GSC-driven VM makes a significant contribution to tumor vasculature. Here, we investigated 11 cases of glioblastomas and found that most of them consisted of blood-perfused vascular channels that coexpress mural cell markers smooth muscle α-actin and platelet-derived growth factor receptor β, epidermal growth factor receptor, and vascular endothelial growth factor receptor 2 (Flk-1), but not CD31 or VE-cadherin. This microvasculature coexisted with endothelial cell-associated vessels. GSCs derived from patients with glioblastomas developed vigorous mural cell-associated vascular channels but few endothelial cell vessels in orthotopic animal models. Suppression of Flk-1 activity and gene expression abrogated GSC transdifferentiation and vascularization in vitro, and inhibited VM in animal models. This study establishes mural-like tumor cells differentiated from GSCs as a significant contributor to microvasculature of glioblastoma and points to Flk-1 as a potential target for therapeutic intervention that could complement current anti-angiogenic treatment.
This article was published in J Neurosci
and referenced in Journal of Cytology & Histology