Radiation Induced Metabolic Alterations Associate With Tumor Aggressiveness and Poor Outcome in Glioblastoma

Kshama Gupta, Ivan Vuckovic, Song Zhang, Yuning Xiong, Brett L. Carlson, Joshua Jacobs, Ian Olson, Xuan Mai Petterson, Slobodan I. Macura, Jann Sarkaria, Terry C. Burns

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2 Scopus citations


Glioblastoma (GBM) is uniformly fatal with a 1-year median survival, despite best available treatment, including radiotherapy (RT). Impacts of prior RT on tumor recurrence are poorly understood but may increase tumor aggressiveness. Metabolic changes have been investigated in radiation-induced brain injury; however, the tumor-promoting effect following prior radiation is lacking. Since RT is vital to GBM management, we quantified tumor-promoting effects of prior RT on patient-derived intracranial GBM xenografts and characterized metabolic alterations associated with the protumorigenic microenvironment. Human xenografts (GBM143) were implanted into nude mice 24 hrs following 20 Gy cranial radiation vs. sham animals. Tumors in pre-radiated mice were more proliferative and more infiltrative, yielding faster mortality (p < 0.0001). Histologic evaluation of tumor associated macrophage/microglia (TAMs) revealed cells with a more fully activated ameboid morphology in pre-radiated animals. Microdialyzates from radiated brain at the margin of tumor infiltration contralateral to the site of implantation were analyzed by unsupervised liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry (LC-MS). In pre-radiated animals, metabolites known to be associated with tumor progression (i.e., modified nucleotides and polyols) were identified. Whole-tissue metabolomic analysis of pre-radiated brain microenvironment for metabolic alterations in a separate cohort of nude mice using 1H-NMR revealed a significant decrease in levels of antioxidants (glutathione (GSH) and ascorbate (ASC)), NAD+, Tricarboxylic acid cycle (TCA) intermediates, and rise in energy carriers (ATP, GTP). GSH and ASC showed highest Variable Importance on Projection prediction (VIPpred) (1.65) in Orthogonal Partial least square Discriminant Analysis (OPLS-DA); Ascorbate catabolism was identified by GC-MS. To assess longevity of radiation effects, we compared survival with implantation occurring 2 months vs. 24 hrs following radiation, finding worse survival in animals implanted at 2 months. These radiation-induced alterations are consistent with a chronic disease-like microenvironment characterized by reduced levels of antioxidants and NAD+, and elevated extracellular ATP and GTP serving as chemoattractants, promoting cell motility and vesicular secretion with decreased levels of GSH and ASC exacerbating oxidative stress. Taken together, these data suggest IR induces tumor-permissive changes in the microenvironment with metabolomic alterations that may facilitate tumor aggressiveness with important implications for recurrent glioblastoma. Harnessing these metabolomic insights may provide opportunities to attenuate RT-associated aggressiveness of recurrent GBM.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number535
JournalFrontiers in Oncology
StatePublished - May 5 2020


  • glioblastoma (GBM)
  • metabolomics
  • radiation therapy (RT)
  • recurrence
  • tumor microenvironment (TME)

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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