Molecular and microenvironmental determinants of glioma stem-like cell survival and invasion

Alison Roos, Zonghui Ding, Joseph C. Loftus, Nhan L. Tran

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

55 Scopus citations


Glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) is the most frequent primary brain tumor in adults with a 5-year survival rate of 5% despite intensive research efforts. The poor prognosis is due, in part, to aggressive invasion into the surrounding brain parenchyma. Invasion is a complex process mediated by cell-intrinsic pathways, extrinsic microenvironmental cues, and biophysical cues from the peritumoral stromal matrix. Recent data have attributed GBM invasion to the glioma stem-like cell (GSC) subpopulation. GSCs are slowly dividing, highly invasive, therapy resistant, and are considered to give rise to tumor recurrence. GSCs are localized in a heterogeneous cellular niche, and cross talk between stromal cells and GSCs cultivates a fertile environment that promotes GSC invasion. Pro-migratory soluble factors from endothelial cells, astrocytes, macrophages, microglia, and non-stem-like tumor cells can stimulate peritumoral invasion of GSCs. Therefore, therapeutic efforts designed to target the invasive GSCs may enhance patient survival. In this review, we summarize the current understanding of extrinsic pathways and major stromal and immune players facilitating GSC maintenance and survival.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number120
JournalFrontiers in Oncology
Issue numberJUN
StatePublished - Jun 16 2017


  • Glioblastoma
  • Glioma stem-like cells
  • Invasion
  • Stem-cell niches
  • Survival

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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