SARS-CoV2 entry factors are expressed in primary human glioblastoma and recapitulated in cerebral organoid models

Paola Suarez-Meade, Fumihiro Watanabe, Henry Ruiz-Garcia, Seamus B. Rafferty, Diogo Moniz-Garcia, Paula V. Schiapparelli, Mark E. Jentoft, Jaime Imitola, Alfredo Quinones-Hinojosa

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose: Glioblastoma (GBM) is the most common and malignant primary brain tumor in adults with a median overall survival of only 14.6 months despite aggressive treatment. While immunotherapy has been successful in other cancers, its benefit has been proven elusive in GBM, mainly due to a markedly immunosuppressive tumor microenvironment. SARS-CoV-2 has been associated with the development of a pronounced central nervous system (CNS) inflammatory response when infecting different cells including astrocytes, endothelial cells, and microglia. While SARS-CoV2 entry factors have been described in different tissues, their presence and implication on GBM aggressiveness or microenvironment has not been studied on appropriate preclinical models. Methods: We evaluated the presence of crucial SARS-CoV-2 entry factors: ACE2, TMPRSS2, and NRP1 in matched surgically-derived GBM tissue, cells lines, and organoids; as well as in human brain derived specimens using immunohistochemistry, confocal pixel line intensity quantification, and transcriptome analysis. Results: We show that patient derived-GBM tissue and cell cultures express SARS-CoV2 entry factors, being NRP1 the most crucial facilitator of SARS-CoV-2 infection in GBM. Moreover, we demonstrate that, receptor expression remains present in our GBM organoids, making them an adequate model to study the effect of this virus in GBM for the potential development of viral therapies in the future. Conclusion: Our findings suggest that the SARS-CoV-2 virus entry factors are expressed in primary tissues and organoid models and could be potentially utilized to study the susceptibility of GBM to this virus to target or modulate the tumor microenviroment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)67-76
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of neuro-oncology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2023


  • Brain
  • Glioblastoma
  • Human
  • Organoids
  • SARS-CoV2
  • Stem cells
  • iPSC

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Cancer Research


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