Evidence for a secreted chemorepellent that directs glioma cell invasion

Tamra Werbowetski, Rolf Bjerkvig, Rolando F. Del Maestro*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

39 Citations (Scopus)


Secreted chemotropic cues guide the migration of neuronal and glial cell precursors during neural development. It is not known if chemotropism contributes to directing the invasion of brain tissue by glioma cells. A model system has been developed that allows quantification of invasive behavior using gliomas spheroids embedded in collagen gels. Here we provide evidence that glioma spheroids secrete a chemorepellent factor(s) that directs cells away from the spheroid and into the collagen matrix. The relationship between total invasion, cell number, and implantation distance suggests that glioma cells respond to a gradient of the chemorepellent cue(s) that is well established at 48 h. C6 astrocytoma cells normally invade the collagen at an angle perpendicular to the spheroid edge. In contrast, an adjacent spheroid causes cells to turn away from their normal trajectory and slow their rate of invasion. Astrocytoma cells are repelled by an adjacent glioma spheroid but rapidly infiltrate astrocyte aggregates, indicating that astrocytes do not express the repellent cue. Uniform concentrations of repellent factor(s) in spheroid conditioned medium overwhelm endogenous gradients and render glioma cells less able to exhibit this chemotropic response. Concentration gradients of spheroid conditioned medium in cell migration assays also demonstrate the chemorepellent cue(s)'s tropic effect. Our findings indicate that glioma spheroids produce a secreted diffusible cue(s) that promotes glioma cell invasion. Identification of this factor(s) may advance current therapies that aim to limit tumor cell invasion.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)71-88
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Neurobiology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2004
Externally publishedYes


  • Chemotropism
  • Glioblastoma
  • Invasion
  • Spheroid
  • Video microscopy


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