Glioma Cells in the Tumor Periphery Have a Stem Cell Phenotype

Sune Munthe, Stine Asferg Petterson, Rikke Hedegaard Dahlrot, Frantz Rom Poulsen, Steinbjørn Hansen, Bjarne Winther Kristensen

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


Gliomas are highly infiltrative tumors incurable with surgery. Although surgery removes the bulk tumor, tumor cells in the periphery are left behind resulting in tumor relapses. The aim of the present study was to characterize the phenotype of tumor cells in the periphery focusing on tumor stemness, proliferation and chemo-resistance. This was investigated in situ in patient glioma tissue as well as in orthotopic glioblastoma xenografts. We identified 26 gliomas having the R132 mutation in Isocitrate DeHydrogenase 1 (mIDH1). A double immunofluorescence approach identifying mIDH1 positive tumor cells and a panel of markers was used. The panel comprised of six stem cell-related markers (CD133, Musashi-1, Bmi-1, Sox-2, Nestin and Glut-3), a proliferation marker (Ki-67) as well as a chemo-resistance marker (MGMT). Computer-based automated classifiers were designed to measure the mIDH1 positive nucleus area-fraction of the chosen markers. Moreover, orthotopic glioblastoma xenografts from five different patient-derived spheroid cultures were obtained and the tumor cells identified by human specific immunohistochemical markers. The results showed that tumor cells in the periphery of patient gliomas expressed stem cell markers, however for most markers at a significantly lower level than in the tumor core. The Ki-67 level was slightly reduced in the periphery, whereas the MGMT level was similar. In orthotopic glioblastoma xenografts all markers showed similar levels in the core and periphery. In conclusion tumor cells in the periphery of patient gliomas have a stem cell phenotype, although it is less pronounced than in the tumor core. Novel therapies aiming at preventing recurrence should therefore take tumor stemness into account. Migrating cells in orthotopic glioblastoma xenografts preserve expression and stem cell markers. The orthotopic model therefore has a promising translational potential.

Original languageEnglish
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number5
Pages (from-to)e0155106
Publication statusPublished - 2016


  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Animals
  • Brain Neoplasms/pathology
  • Female
  • Fluorescent Antibody Technique
  • Glioma/pathology
  • Humans
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Mice, Inbred BALB C
  • Mice, Nude
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplastic Stem Cells/pathology
  • Phenotype
  • Spheroids, Cellular/pathology
  • Xenograft Model Antitumor Assays


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