Research ArticleCancer

Pleiotrophin promotes vascular abnormalization in gliomas and correlates with poor survival in patients with astrocytomas

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Science Signaling  08 Dec 2015:
Vol. 8, Issue 406, pp. ra125
DOI: 10.1126/scisignal.aaa1690

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Growing blood vessels in gliomas

Aggressive gliomas are particularly lethal, in part, because of increased density of blood vessels and abnormal vasculature that enables tumor growth and damages the brain. Various secreted factors, including VEGF and pleiotrophin, act on endothelial cells to promote blood vessel formation. By analyzing patient data, Zhang et al. correlated increased pleiotrophin abundance to more aggressive grades of glioma and decreased survival. When implanted in mice, glioma cells that released pleiotrophin formed larger tumors with more blood vessels and increased VEGF concentrations near the blood vessels. Mice had smaller gliomas and survived longer when treated with inhibitors of ALK, a receptor for pleiotrophin, or an inhibitor of the VEGF receptor. These results suggest that blocking the signals that promote the abnormal blood vessel growth may be beneficial to patients with aggressive gliomas.