Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Neural precursor cells induce cell death in certain brain tumors

Date:
July 23, 2012
Source:
Helmholtz Association
Summary:
Neural precursor cells in the young brain suppress certain brain tumors such as high-grade gliomas, especially glioblastoma, which are among the most common and most aggressive tumors. Now researchers have deciphered the underlying mechanism of action with which neural precursor cells protect the young brain against these tumors.

Neural precursor cells (NPC) in the young brain suppress certain brain tumors such as high-grade gliomas, especially glioblastoma (GBM), which are among the most common and most aggressive tumors. Now researchers of the Max Delbrück Center for Molecular Medicine (MDC) Berlin-Buch and Charité -- Universitätsmedizin Berlin have deciphered the underlying mechanism of action with which neural precursor cells protect the young brain against these tumors. They found that the NPC release substances that activate TRPV1 ion channels in the tumor cells and subsequently induce the tumor cells to undergo stress-induced cell-death.

Despite surgery, radiation or chemotherapy or even a combination of all three treatment options, there is currently no cure for glioblastoma. In an earlier study the research group led by Professor Helmut Kettenmann (MDC) showed that neural precursor cells migrate to the glioblastoma cells and attack them. The neural precursor cells release a protein belonging to the family of BMP proteins (bone morphogenetic protein) that directly attacks the tumor stem cells. The current consensus of researchers is that tumor stem cells are the actual cause for continuous tumor self-renewal.

Kristin Stock, Jitender Kumar, Professor Kettenmann (all MDC), Dr. Michael Synowitz (MDC and Charité), Professor Rainer Glass (Munich University Hospitals, formerly MDC) and Professor Vincenzo Di Marzo (Istituto di Chimica Biomolecolare Pozzuoli, Naples, Italy) now report a new mechanism of action of NPC in astrocytomas. Like glioblastomas, astrocytomas are brain tumors that belong to the family of gliomas. Gliomas are most common in older people and are almost invariably fatal.

As the MDC researchers showed, the NPC also migrate to the astrocytomas. There they do not secrete proteins, but rather release fatty-acid substances (endovanilloids) which are harmful to the cancer cells. However, in order to exert their lethal effect, the endovanilloids need the aid of a specific ion channel, the TRPV1 channel (transient receptor potential vanilloid type 1), also called the vanilloid receptor 1. TRPV1 is already known to researchers as a transducer of painful stimuli. It has, among other things, a binding site for capsaicin, the irritant of hot chili peppers, and is responsible for the hot sensation after eating them. Clinical trials are currently underway to develop new pain treatments by blocking or desensitizing this ion channel.

MDC researchers describe an additional role of the TRPV1 ion channel

In contrast to its use in pain management, this ion channel, which is located on the surface of glioblastoma cells and is much more abundant there than on normal glial cells, must be activated to trigger cell death in gliomas. The activated ion channel mediates stress-induced cell-death in tumor cells. If however TRPV1 is downregulated or blocked, the glioma cells are not destroyed. The MDC researchers are thus the first to identify neural precursor cells as the source of fatty acids that induce tumor cell death and to describe the role of the TRPV1 ion channel in the fight against gliomas.

However, the activity of neural precursor cells in the brain and thus of the body's own protective mechanism against gliomas diminishes with increasing age. This could explain why these tumors usually develop in older adults and not in children and young people. How can the natural protection of neural precursor cells be harnessed for older brains? According to the researchers, neural precursor cell therapy is not a solution. The benefit this obviously brings in the treatment of young people can have the opposite effect in older adults and may trigger brain tumors.

One possible treatment would be to use drugs to activate the TRPV1 channels. In mice, the group showed that a synthetic substance (arvanil), which is similar to capsaicin, reduced tumor growth. However, this substance has not yet been approved as a drug because the adverse side effects for humans are too severe. It is only used in basic research on mice, which tolerate the substance well. "In principle, however," the researchers suggest, "synthetic vanilloid compounds may have clinical potential for brain tumor treatment."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Helmholtz Association. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Kristin Stock, Jitender Kumar, Michael Synowitz, Stefania Petrosino, Roberta Imperatore, Ewan St J Smith, Peter Wend, Bettina Purfürst, Ulrike A Nuber, Ulf Gurok, Vitali Matyash, Joo-Hee Wälzlein, Sridhar R Chirasani, Gunnar Dittmar, Benjamin F Cravatt, Stefan Momma, Gary R Lewin, Alessia Ligresti, Luciano De Petrocellis, Luigia Cristino, Vincenzo Di Marzo, Helmut Kettenmann, Rainer Glass. Neural precursor cells induce cell death of high-grade astrocytomas through stimulation of TRPV1. Nature Medicine, 2012; DOI: 10.1038/nm.2827

Cite This Page:

Helmholtz Association. "Neural precursor cells induce cell death in certain brain tumors." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 23 July 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/07/120723134852.htm>.
Helmholtz Association. (2012, July 23). Neural precursor cells induce cell death in certain brain tumors. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 21, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/07/120723134852.htm
Helmholtz Association. "Neural precursor cells induce cell death in certain brain tumors." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/07/120723134852.htm (accessed August 21, 2014).

Share This




More Health & Medicine News

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Drug Used To Treat 'Ebola's Cousin' Shows Promise

Drug Used To Treat 'Ebola's Cousin' Shows Promise

Newsy (Aug. 21, 2014) — An experimental drug used to treat Marburg virus in rhesus monkeys could give new insight into a similar treatment for Ebola. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Cadavers, a Teen, and a Medical School Dream

Cadavers, a Teen, and a Medical School Dream

AP (Aug. 21, 2014) — Contains graphic content. He's only 17. But Johntrell Bowles has wanted to be a doctor from a young age, despite the odds against him. He was recently the youngest participant in a cadaver program at the Indiana University NW medical school. (Aug. 21) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
American Ebola Patients Released: What Cured Them?

American Ebola Patients Released: What Cured Them?

Newsy (Aug. 21, 2014) — It's unclear whether the American Ebola patients' recoveries can be attributed to an experimental drug or early detection and good medical care. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Lost Brain Cells To Blame For Sleep Problems Among Seniors

Lost Brain Cells To Blame For Sleep Problems Among Seniors

Newsy (Aug. 21, 2014) — According to a new study, elderly people might have trouble sleeping because of the loss of a certain group of neurons in the brain. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins