Journal of Neuro-Oncology

, Volume 86, Issue 1, pp 31–45

Expression of stem cell markers in human astrocytomas of different WHO grades

  • Yue-Hui Ma
  • Rolf Mentlein
  • Friederike Knerlich
  • Marie-Luise Kruse
  • H. Maximilian Mehdorn
  • Janka Held-Feindt
Lab investigation - human/animal tissue

DOI: 10.1007/s11060-007-9439-7

Cite this article as:
Ma, YH., Mentlein, R., Knerlich, F. et al. J Neurooncol (2008) 86: 31. doi:10.1007/s11060-007-9439-7


According to new hypotheses astrocytomas/gliomas either arise from or attract neural stem cells. Biological markers, particularly antigenic markers, have played a significant role for the characterization of these tumour stem cells (TSCc). Because these studies have been performed with single experimental samples mostly from gliomas, we investigated the expression of the stem cell markers CD133/Prominin, Nestin, Sox-2, Musashi-1, CXCR4, Flt-4/VEGFR-3 and CD105/Endoglin in 72 astrocytomas of different WHO-grades and compared it to normal adult human brain. Expression of their mRNA was quantified by quantitative RT-PCR, of their protein by counting immunopositive cells. In contrast to normal brain, tumour samples showed a high variability for the expression of all markers. However, their mean expression was significantly increased in astrocytomas, but this depended on the WHO grade only for CD133, Nestin, Sox-2 and Musashi-1. Confocal microscopy revealed that these markers mostly could be co-stained with glial fibrillary acidic protein, a marker for astoglial cells, but less frequently with the proliferation marker Ki-67/MIB-1. These markers sometimes, but not necessarily could be co-stained with each other in complex patterns. Our results show that most astrocytomas contain considerable portions of cells expressing stem cell markers. It appears that some of these cells originate from tumour genesis (supporting the stem cell hypothesis) while others are attracted by the tumours. Further functional markers are required to differentiate these TSC-types.


Astrocytomas CD133 CXCR4 Endoglin Flt-4 Musashi-1 Nestin SOX-2 Stem cell markers Tumour stem cells 



Neural stem cell


Tumour stem cell


Hematopoietic stem cell


Normal brain tissue




Real-time reverse-transcription polymerase chain reaction


Reverse-transcription polymerase chain reaction


Glial fibrillary acidic protein


World Health Organization

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Yue-Hui Ma
    • 1
    • 2
  • Rolf Mentlein
    • 3
  • Friederike Knerlich
    • 1
  • Marie-Luise Kruse
    • 4
  • H. Maximilian Mehdorn
    • 1
  • Janka Held-Feindt
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of NeurosurgeryUniversity Medical Center Schleswig-HolsteinKielGermany
  2. 2.Department of Neurosurgery, the First Affiliated Hospital, School of MedicineZhejiang UniversityHangzhouPeople’s Republic of China
  3. 3.Department of AnatomyUniversity of KielKielGermany
  4. 4.Department of General Internal MedicineUniversity Medical Center Schleswig-HolsteinKielGermany

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