A reignited debate over the cell(s) of origin for glioblastoma and its clinical implications

  • Xiaolin Fan
  • Yanzhen Xiong
  • Yuan WangEmail author


Glioblastoma (GBM) is the most common and lethal primary neoplasm in the central nervous system. Despite intensive treatment, the prognosis for patients with GBM remains poor, with a median survival of 14–16 months. 90% of GBMs are primary GBMs that are full-blown at diagnosis without evidences of a pre-existing lessmalignant precursor lesion. Therefore, identification of the cell(s) of origin for GBM—the normal cell or cell type that acquires the initial GBM-promoting genetic hit(s)—is the key to the understanding of the disease etiology and the development of novel therapies. Neural stem cells and oligodendrocyte precursor cells are the two major candidates for the cell(s) of origin for GBM. Latest data from human samples have reignited the longstanding debate over which cells are the clinically more relevant origin for GBMs. By critically analyzing evidences for or against the candidacy of each cell type, we highlight the most recent progress and debate in the field, explore the clinical implications, and propose future directions toward early diagnosis and preventive treatment of GBMs.


glioblastoma cell(s) of origin neural stem cells oligodendrocyte precursor cells subventricular zone early diagnosis 


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This work was supported by the National Key Research and Development Program of China, Stem Cell and Translational Research (No. 2017YFA0106500), Distinguished Young Scientists Program of Sichuan Province (No. 2019JDJQ0029), and Thousand Talents Program for Young Outstanding Scientists, China.


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© Higher Education Press and Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Neurology and Cancer Center, West China HospitalSichuan UniversityChengduChina

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