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Review

Cancer stem cell contribution to glioblastoma invasiveness

Barbara Ortensi, Matteo Setti, Daniela Osti and Giuliana Pelicci*

Author Affiliations

Department of Experimental Oncology, European Institute of Oncology (IEO), Via Adamello 16, 20139 Milan, Italy

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Stem Cell Research & Therapy 2013, 4:18  doi:10.1186/scrt166

Published: 28 February 2013

Abstract

Glioblastoma (GBM) is the most aggressive and lethal brain tumor in adults. Its invasive nature currently represents the most challenging hurdle to surgical resection. The mechanism adopted by GBM cells to carry out their invasive strategy is an intricate program that recalls what takes place in embryonic cells during development and in carcinoma cells during metastasis formation, the so-called epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition. GBM cells undergo a series of molecular and conformational changes shifting the tumor toward mesenchymal traits, including extracellular matrix remodeling, cytoskeletal re-patterning, and stem-like trait acquisition. A deeper understanding of the mechanisms driving the whole infiltrative process represents the first step toward successful treatment of this pathology. Here, we review recent findings demonstrating the invasive nature of GBM cancer stem cells, together with novel candidate molecules associated with both cancer stem cell biology and GBM invasion, like doublecortin and microRNAs. These findings may affect the design of effective therapies currently not considered for GBM invasive progression.