Insulin-like growth factor binding proteins (IGFBPs) have been implicated in the pathogenesis of glioma. In a previous study the authors demonstrated that IGFBP-3 is a novel glioblastoma biomarker associated with poor survival. Since signal transducer and activator of transcription 1 (STAT-1) has been shown to be regulated by IGFBP-3 during chondrogenesis and is a prosurvival and radioresistant molecule in different tumors, the aim in the present study was to explore the functional significance of IGFBP-3 in malignant glioma cells, to determine if STAT-1 is indeed regulated by IGFBP-3, and to study the potential of STAT-1 as a biomarker in glioblastoma.
The functional significance of IGFBP-3 was investigated using the short hairpin (sh)RNA gene knockdown approach on U251MG cells. STAT-1 regulation by IGFBP-3 was tested on U251MG and U87MG cells by shRNA gene knockdown and exogenous treatment with recombinant IGFBP-3 protein. Subsequently, the expression of STAT-1 was analyzed with real-time reverse transcription–polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) and immunohistochemistry (IHC) in glioblastoma and control brain tissues. Survival analyses were done on a uniformly treated prospective cohort of adults with newly diagnosed glioblastoma (136 patients) using Kaplan-Meier and Cox regression models.
IGFBP-3 knockdown significantly impaired proliferation, motility, migration, and invasive capacity of U251MG cells in vitro (p < 0.005). Exogenous overexpression of IGFBP-3 in U251MG and U87MG cells demonstrated STAT-1 regulation. The mean transcript levels (by real-time RT-PCR) and the mean labeling index of STAT-1 (by IHC) were significantly higher in glioblastoma than in control brain tissues (p = 0.0239 and p < 0.001, respectively). Multivariate survival analysis revealed that STAT-1 protein expression (HR 1.015, p = 0.033, 95% CI 1.001–1.029) along with patient age (HR 1.025, p = 0.005, 95% CI 1.008–1.042) were significant predictors of shorter survival in patients with glioblastoma.
IGFBP-3 influences tumor cell proliferation, migration, and invasion and regulates STAT-1 expression in malignant glioma cells. STAT-1 is overexpressed in human glioblastoma tissues and emerges as a novel prognostic biomarker.