Molecular Neurobiology

, Volume 42, Issue 1, pp 89-96

First online:

Glioma Cell Death: Cell–Cell Interactions and Signalling Networks

  • H. Anne LeaverAffiliated withDepartment of Clinical Neurosciences, University of EdinburghCell Biology R&D, SNBTS Edinburgh Email author 
  • , Maria Theresa RizzoAffiliated withSignal Transduction Laboratory, Methodist Research Institute
  • , Ian R. WhittleAffiliated withDepartment of Clinical Neurosciences, University of Edinburgh

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The prognosis for patients with malignant gliomas is poor, but improvements may emerge from a better understanding of the pathophysiology of glioma signalling. Recent therapeutic developments have implicated lipid signalling in glioma cell death. Stress signalling in glioma cell death involves mitochondria and endoplasmic reticulum. Lipid mediators also signal via extrinsic pathways in glioma cell proliferation, migration and interaction with endothelial and microglial cells. Glioma cell death and tumour regression have been reported using polyunsaturated fatty acids in animal models, human ex vivo explants, glioma cell preparations and in clinical case reports involving intratumoral infusion. Cell death signalling was associated with generation of reactive oxygen intermediates and mitochondrial and other signalling pathways. In this review, evidence for mitochondrial responses to stress signals, including polyunsaturated fatty acids, peroxidising agents and calcium is presented. Additionally, evidence for interaction of glioma cells with primary brain endothelial cells is described, modulating human glioma peroxidative signalling. Glioma responses to potential therapeutic agents should be analysed in systems reflecting tumour connectivity and CNS structural and functional integrity. Future insights may also be derived from studies of signalling in glioma-derived tumour stem cells.


Glioma Cell death signalling Mitochondria