Life Science, M&E 2: Metabolism (MS), M&E 3: Cellular Respiration (HS), M&E 4: Aerobic/Anaerobic Resp. (HS), S&F 1: Cells (MS), S&F 2: Cell Function (MS)

Astrocyte immunometabolic regulation of the tumour microenvironment drives glioblastoma pathogenicity

https://doi.org/10.1093/brain/awac222

Summary: Glioblastomas are incredibly deadly brain tumors. While there have been decades of research on curing these cancers, survival rates haven’t increased much. Recently, a study out of Tel Aviv looked at what makes glioblastomas so resistant to treatment. Results showed that glioblastomas are protected and fed by astrocytes. Astrocytes are specialized glial cells in the brain with many functions, one of which is immune-related. Scientists found that astrocytes surround glioblastomas and recruit other immune cells to the tumor site. About 40% of glioblastoma tumors’ mass is made of immune cells, primarily macrophages. Finally, astrocytes feed glioblastoma cholesterol. By inhibiting the astrocyte protein that transfers the cholesterol, scientists were able to starve glioblastomas. As a result, the tumors disappeared and did not return (mice model or human tumor culture).

Lesson Comments: This article can be broken down into many different parts and read separately. I suggest that teachers go over the main points with the students, explicitly pointing out the two ways astrocytes support the growth of glioblastomas. If a class is studying the immune system, perhaps the macrophage recruitment part could be used. If a class is discussing energy use, mitochondria function, cellular respiration, lipids and carbohydrates, or protein function, then teachers can talk about glioblastomas “eating” cholesterol. Don’t just stop here! After you’re done with this paper, get the class interested in other types of tumors and how we can prevent them from growing and spreading.

Rita Perelroizen, Bar Philosof, Noga Budick-Harmelin, Tom Chernobylsky, Ariel Ron, Rotem Katzir, Dor Shimon, Adi Tessler, Orit Adir, Anat Gaoni-Yogev, Tom Meyer, Avivit Krivitsky, Nuphar Shidlovsky, Asaf Madi, Eytan Ruppin, Lior Mayo, Astrocyte immunometabolic regulation of the tumour microenvironment drives glioblastoma pathogenicity, Brain, Volume 145, Issue 9, September 2022, Pages 3288–3307, https://doi.org/10.1093/brain/awac222

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