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Mesenchymal stem cell-like properties of CD133+ glioblastoma-initiating cells.


Glioblastoma is composed of dividing tumor cells, stromal cells and tumor initiating CD133+ cells. Recent reports have discussed the origin of the glioblastoma CD133+ cells and their function in the tumor microenvironment. The present work sought to investigate the multipotent and mesenchymal properties of primary highly purified human CD133+ glioblastoma-initiating cells. To accomplish this aim, we used the following approaches: i) generation of tumor subspheres of CD133+ selected cells from primary cell cultures of glioblastoma; ii) analysis of the expression of pluripotency stem cell markers and mesenchymal stem cell (MSC) markers in the CD133+ glioblastoma-initiating cells; iii) side-by-side ultrastructural characterization of the CD133+ glioblastoma cells, MSC and CD133+ hematopoietic stem cells; iv) assessment of adipogenic differentiation of CD133+ glioblastoma cells to test their MSC-like in vitro differentiation ability; and v) use of an orthotopic glioblastoma xenograft model in the absence of immune suppression. We found that the CD133+ glioblastoma cells expressed both the pluripotency stem cell markers (Nanog, Mush-1 and SSEA-3) and MSC markers. In addition, the CD133+ cells were able to differentiate into adipocyte-like cells. Transmission electron microscopy (TEM) demonstrated that CD133+ glioblastoma-initiating cells had ultrastructural features similar to those of undifferentiated MSCs. In addition, when administered in vivo to non-immunocompromised animals, the CD133+ cells were also able to mimic the phenotype of the original patient´s tumor. In summary, we showed that the CD133+ glioblastoma cells express molecular signatures of MSCs, neural stem cells and pluripotent stem cells, thus possibly enabling differentiation into both neural and mesodermal cell types. (AU)

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