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Unexpected connection between gliomas, neurodegenerative diseases

January 23, 2020
Michigan Medicine - University of Michigan
New basic science and clinical research identifies TAU, the same protein studied in the development of Alzheimer's, as a biomarker for glioma development.

A protein typically associated with neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer's might help scientists explore how gliomas, a type of cancerous brain tumor, become so aggressive.

The new study, in mouse models and human brain tumor tissues, was published in Science Translational Medicine and found a significant expression of the protein TAU in glioma cells, especially in those patients with better prognoses.

Patients with glioma are given a better prognosis when their tumor expresses a mutation in a gene called isocitrate dehydrogenase 1 (IDH1). In this international collaborative study led by the Instituto de Salud Carlos III-UFIEC in Madrid, Spain, those IDHI mutations stimulated the expression of TAU. Then, the presence of TAU acted as a brake for the formation of new blood vessels, which are necessary for the aggressive behavior of the tumors.

"We report that the levels of microtubule-associated protein TAU, which have been associated with neurodegenerative diseases, are epigenetically controlled by the balance between normal and mutant IDH1/2 in mouse and human gliomas," says co-author Maria G. Castro, Ph.D., a professor of neurosurgery and cell and developmental biology at Michigan Medicine (University of Michigan). "In IDH1/2 mutant tumors, we found that expression levels of TAU decreased with tumor progression."

That means levels of TAU could be used as a biomarker for tumor progression in mutant IDH1/2 gliomas, Castro says.

Story Source:

Materials provided by Michigan Medicine - University of Michigan. Original written by Haley Otman. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.

Journal Reference:

  1. Ricardo Gargini, Berta Segura-Collar, Beatriz Herránz, Vega García-Escudero, Andrés Romero-Bravo, Felipe J. Núñez, Daniel García-Pérez, Jacqueline Gutiérrez-Guamán, Angel Ayuso-Sacido, Joan Seoane, Angel Pérez-Núñez, Juan M. Sepúlveda-Sánchez, Aurelio Hernández-Laín, María G. Castro, Ramón García-Escudero, Jesús Ávila, Pilar Sánchez-Gómez. The IDH-TAU-EGFR triad defines the neovascular landscape of diffuse gliomas. Science Translational Medicine, 2020; 12 (527): eaax1501 DOI: 10.1126/scitranslmed.aax1501

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Michigan Medicine - University of Michigan. "Unexpected connection between gliomas, neurodegenerative diseases." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 23 January 2020. <>.
Michigan Medicine - University of Michigan. (2020, January 23). Unexpected connection between gliomas, neurodegenerative diseases. ScienceDaily. Retrieved February 25, 2024 from
Michigan Medicine - University of Michigan. "Unexpected connection between gliomas, neurodegenerative diseases." ScienceDaily. (accessed February 25, 2024).

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