Examining Cellular Interactions and Response to Chemotherapy in The Glioblastoma Perivascular Niche

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Virginia Tech


Glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) is the most deadly and common form of brain cancer and is responsible for over 50% of adult brain tumors. A specific region within the GBM environment is known as the perivascular niche (PVN). We have designed a 3D in vitro model of the PVN comprised of either collagen Type 1 or HyStem-C®, human umbilical vein endothelial cells (HUVECs) or human brain microvascular endothelial cells (HBMECs), and LN229 (GBM) cells. A synergistic response between HUVECs and LN229 cells was observed in co-culture, including 10 – 16-fold increased cell proliferation, a decrease in the height of hydrogels of up to 68%, as well as elevated secretion of TGF-β and CXCL12 up to 2.6-fold from Day 8 to 14. These trends correlated with cell colocalization, indicating a chemotactic role for CXCL12 in enabling the migration of LN229 cells towards HUVECs in co-cultures. Von Willebrand factor (vWF) was co-expressed with glial fibrillary acidic protein (GFAP) in up to 40% of LN229 cells after 14 days in co-culture in collagen (2.2 mg/mL) and HyStem-C® gels. The expression of vWF indicates the early stages of trans-differentiation of LN229 cells to an endothelial cell phenotype. We then investigated the effect of chemotherapeutic drugs temozolomide (TMZ) and Avastin® on EC networks, LN229 cell morphology and alignment, cytotoxicity, colocalization, and trans-differentiation. TMZ was observed to primarily affect LN229 cells, with treatment at high concentrations resulting in up to 2.3-fold reduced alignment as well as an increase in cell circularity. Cytotoxicity of up to 94% was also observed up to in LN229 monocultures, and was significantly higher in collagen (1.1 mg/mL) gels. Avastin® treatment resulted in changes to ECs. Network features were significantly reduced and EC cellular proliferation decreased up to 69% with Avastin® treatment. Significant increases in percentages of colocalized and GFAP+/vWF+ cells were also observed when treated with 8 µg/mL Avastin®. This suggests that chemotactic signaling may have been altered. TGF-β secretion was reduced in co-cultures when 150 µM TMZ or 8 µg/mL Avastin® were administered.



Glioblastoma, perivascular niche, trans-differentiation, intercellular interactions, chemotherapy