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Identification of cancer stem cells from human glioblastomas: growth and differentiation capabilities and CD133/prominin-1 expression


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CD133 can be a marker of tumorigenic CSCs (cancer stem cells) in human GBM (glioblastoma multiforme), although tumorigenic CD133-negative CSCs have been also isolated. Additional evidence indicates that CSCs from GBM exhibit different phenotypes, with increasing interest in the potential significance of the different CSCs with respect to diagnosis, prognosis and the development of novel targets for treatment. We have analysed the expression of CD133 in freshly isolated cells from 15 human GBM specimens. Only 4 of them contained cells positive for AC133 by FACS analysis, and all of them yielded distinct CSC lines, whereas only 6 CSC lines were obtained from the other 11 GBMs. Of these 10 CSCs lines, we further characterized 6 CSC lines. Three CSCs grew as fast-growing neurospheres with higher clonogenic ability, whereas the remaining 3 grew as slow-growing semi-adherent spheres of lower clonogenicity. In addition, the former CSC lines displayed better differentiation capabilities than the latter ones. PCR and Western blot analysis showed that all 6 GBM CSC lines expressed CD133/prominin-1, suggesting that cells negative by FACS analysis may actually represent cells expressing low levels of CD133 undetected by FACS. Nevertheless, all the 6 CSC lines were tumorigenic in nude mice. In conclusion, CSCs from human primary GBMs show different phenotypes and variable levels of CD133 expression, but these parameters did not directly correlate with the tumorigenic potential.