, Volume 114, Issue 5, pp 443-458,
Open Access This content is freely available online to anyone, anywhere at any time.
Date: 06 Sep 2007

Diffuse glioma growth: a guerilla war

Abstract

In contrast to almost all other brain tumors, diffuse gliomas infiltrate extensively in the neuropil. This growth pattern is a major factor in therapeutic failure. Diffuse infiltrative glioma cells show some similarities with guerilla warriors. Histopathologically, the tumor cells tend to invade individually or in small groups in between the dense network of neuronal and glial cell processes. Meanwhile, in large areas of diffuse gliomas the tumor cells abuse pre-existent “supply lines” for oxygen and nutrients rather than constructing their own. Radiological visualization of the invasive front of diffuse gliomas is difficult. Although the knowledge about migration of (tumor)cells is rapidly increasing, the exact molecular mechanisms underlying infiltration of glioma cells in the neuropil have not yet been elucidated. As the efficacy of conventional methods to fight diffuse infiltrative glioma cells is limited, a more targeted (“search & destroy”) tactic may be needed for these tumors. Hopefully, the study of original human glioma tissue and of genotypically and phenotypically relevant glioma models will soon provide information about the Achilles heel of diffuse infiltrative glioma cells that can be used for more effective therapeutic strategies.