Tumour cells in the brain connect with normal brain cells to receive an energy boost

16 May 2023
Tumour cells in the brain connect with normal brain cells to receive an energy boost

Malignant brain tumours belong to a group of cancers with bleak prognosis.

These tumours are resistant to treatment and considered incurable.

Patient survival is approximately 18 months despite surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy.

Recent research indicates that the tumour microenvironment, which consists of normal cells, has a tight communication with tumour cells to promote growth and treatment resistance.

In the present collaborative work, research teams lead by Hrvoje Miletic from University of Bergen/Haukeland University Hospital and Justin Lathia from Cleveland Clinic demonstrate that brain tumour cells communicate with a normal brain cell type called astrocytes to enhance tumour growth by energy transfer.

Brain tumour cells and astrocytes connect physically via extensions called microtubes.

In these microtubes the researchers found an abundance of mitochondria, which are small cell organelles generating energy for living organisms.

Mitochondria are transferred through these microtubes from astrocytes to tumour cells and this transfer of energy increases brain tumour growth.

“The results from this project lay the foundation for future research on communication between tumour cells and astrocytes which is urgently needed to better understand the development of brain tumours”, says Hrvoje Miletic.

Further insights into this communication network may also lead to development of new treatment strategies in the future.

Article: GAP43-dependent mitochondria transfer from astrocytes enhances glioblastoma tumourigenicity

Source: University of Bergen