Autophagy, the Trojan horse to combat glioblastomas

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✓ Malignant gliomas, among which glioblastomas constitute the largest group, are characterized by a dramatically diffuse infiltration into the brain parenchyma with, as a consequence, the fact that no patient with glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) has been cured to date. Migrating GBM cells are resistant to apoptosis (Type I programmed cell death), and thus to radiotherapy and conventional chemotherapy, because of the constitutive activation of several intracellular signaling pathways, of which the most important identified to date are the pathways controlled by phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase, Akt, and the mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR). Migrating GBM cells seem to be less prone to resist autophagy (Type II programmed cell death), and disruption of the pathway controlled by mTOR induces marked autophagic processes in GBM cells. Temozolomide is the most efficacious cytotoxic drug employed today to combat glioblastoma, and this drug exerts its cytotoxic activity through proautophagic processes. Thus, autophagy represents a kind of Trojan horse that can be used to bypass, at least partly, the dramatic resistance of glioblastoma to radiotherapy and proapoptotic-related chemotherapy.

Abbreviations used in this paper:EGFR = epidermal growth factor receptor; GBM = glioblastoma multiforme; MGMT = O6-methylguanine–DNA methyltransferase; mTOR = mammalian target of rapamycin; NF-κB = nuclear factor–κB; PI3K = phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase.

✓ Malignant gliomas, among which glioblastomas constitute the largest group, are characterized by a dramatically diffuse infiltration into the brain parenchyma with, as a consequence, the fact that no patient with glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) has been cured to date. Migrating GBM cells are resistant to apoptosis (Type I programmed cell death), and thus to radiotherapy and conventional chemotherapy, because of the constitutive activation of several intracellular signaling pathways, of which the most important identified to date are the pathways controlled by phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase, Akt, and the mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR). Migrating GBM cells seem to be less prone to resist autophagy (Type II programmed cell death), and disruption of the pathway controlled by mTOR induces marked autophagic processes in GBM cells. Temozolomide is the most efficacious cytotoxic drug employed today to combat glioblastoma, and this drug exerts its cytotoxic activity through proautophagic processes. Thus, autophagy represents a kind of Trojan horse that can be used to bypass, at least partly, the dramatic resistance of glioblastoma to radiotherapy and proapoptotic-related chemotherapy.

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Address reprint requests to: Florence Lefranc, M.D., Ph.D., Department of Neurosurgery, Erasme University Hospital-Université Libre de Bruxelles, Route de Lennik, 808-1070 Brussels, Belgium. email: fllefran@ulb.ac.be.

© AANS, except where prohibited by US copyright law.

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