Response of malignant glioma cell lines to activation and inhibition of protein kinase C-mediated pathways

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  • 1 Departments of Neurosurgery and Pathology, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
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✓ To evaluate the role of protein kinase C-mediated pathways in the proliferation of malignant gliomas, this study examined the effect of a protein kinase C (PKC)-activating phorbol ester (12-O-tetradecanoyl-13-phorbol acetate or TPA) and a protein kinase C inhibitor (polymyxin B) on deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) synthesis of malignant glioma cells in vitro. A serum-free chemically defined medium, MCDB 105, was employed for all studies. Two established human malignant glioma cell lines (T98G and U138), two rat glioma lines (9L and C6), and two low-passage human glioma lines (obtained from surgical specimens) were studied. With the exception of the C6 line, all tumors responded in a dose-dependent fashion to nanomolar concentrations of TPA with a median effective dose that varied from 0.5 ng/ml for the U138 glioma to 1 ng/ml for the T98G glioma. At optimal concentrations (5 to 10 ng/ml), TPA produced a two- to five-fold increase in the rate of DNA synthesis (p < 0.05) as assessed by incorporation of 3H-thymidine. However, TPA had no additive effect on the mitogenic response produced by epidermal growth factor (EGF) or platelet-derived growth factor (PDGF). Inhibition of PKC using the antibiotic polymyxin B (20 µg/ml) abolished the TPA-induced mitogenic response in the five responsive lines tested. In two tumors (U138 and 9L), polymyxin B also eliminated EGF-, PDGF-, and serum-induced DNA synthesis as well as abolishing baseline DNA synthesis. These cells remained viable, however, as assessed by trypan blue exclusion; after removal of polymyxin B from the medium, they were able to resume DNA synthesis in response to TPA and serum. In the three other tumors (T98G and the two low-passage human glioma lines), growth factor-induced and serum-induced DNA synthesis were inhibited by approximately 25% to 85%.

It is concluded that PKC-mediated pathways affect DNA synthesis in the human malignant glial tumors studied. The response of the glioma cells to TPA is similar to the responses seen in fetal astrocytes, but differs significantly from those reported for normal adult glial cultures. Because the response of the 9L glioma to TPA is similar to the responses seen in the human tumors, the 9L rat glioma model may prove useful for examining the role of PKC-mediated pathways in controlling glioma growth in vivo.

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Contributor Notes

Address reprint requests to: Frank T. Vertosick, Jr., M.D., Department of Neurosurgery, Montefiore Hospital, 3459 Fifth Avenue, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 15213.
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