Object. Glioblastomas multiforme (GBMs) are hypervascular tumors characterized by endothelial cell (EC) proliferation. There is increasing evidence that ECs that infiltrate systemic tumors are different from normal blood vessel cells; whether this difference is seen in the central nervous system between GBM and normal brain tissue is not known. The goal of this investigation was to characterize and compare the functional and phenotypic properties of GBM-associated ECs and normal brain ECs.
Methods. Human ECs were isolated from fresh tissue specimens, purified using flow cytometry, and characterized by immunostaining. Proliferation was measured by determining bromodeoxyuridine incorporation and Ki-67 staining, and by performing the monotetrazolium assay. The migration rate of the cells was determined using the modified Boyden chamber technique. Apoptosis was evaluated by performing the TUNEL assay, cell death enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA), and annexin V staining. Growth factor production was analyzed using the ELISA technique.
The brain tumor ECs differed from normal brain ECs morphologically and by their expression and distribution of specific markers (that is, vascular endothelial cadherin [VE-cadherin] and CD31). Functional differences between the two cell populations were also evident. The brain tumor ECs proliferated more slowly and underwent less apoptosis than normal brain ECs; however, the tumor ECs migrated faster than the normal ECs. The normal ECs were sensitive to growth factors such as vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) and endothelin-1 (ET-1), whereas the tumor ECs were not. In addition, the brain tumor ECs constitutively produced higher levels of ET-1 and VEGF, compared with the normal ECs.
Conclusions. The data demonstrated that ECs derived from normal brain and from GBMs have significant phenotypic and functional distinctions. Further characterization of brain tumor ECs is essential for efficient antiangiogenic treatment of gliomas.