In the current study, the researchers used glioblastoma tissue removed from patients during neurosurgery and created two separate models. For one model, the researchers extracted cells from the tissue and grew them in cultures in the laboratory. For the second model, they transplanted the glioblastoma tissue into the frontal lobes of the brains of mice.
The researchers first measured the number of glioma stem cells present in the original tissue and then administered set doses of ionizing radiation to the cell cultures and to the mice. In both cases, the researchers observed a roughly fourfold jump in the number of glioma stem cells present in the tumor tissue following radiation treatment.
Because ionizing radiation works primarily by causing permanent damage to the key genetic material of cells, DNA, the researchers hypothesized that the glioma stem cells survive and multiply by somehow fixing radiation-induced DNA damage better than the other cancer cells.
To test this, the researchers searched the tissue samples for specific proteins that are responsible for detecting DNA damage. Using cell samples taken from both study models, the team examined the DNA damage checkpoint response both before and after use of ionizing radiation treatments by testing for activation of the key proteins that detect DNA damage. The researchers wanted to know whether the cells, following exposure to radiation treatment, would repair the DNA damage by activating the checkpoint response or whether they would instead die.
The team found that after ionizing radiation, the DNA damage checkpoint proteins in glioma stem cells were more highly activated than in other cancer cells. This heightened activation, the researchers said, leads cancer stem cells to more effectively repair DNA damage and thus render the cells less likely to die as a result of the treatmen
Source:Duke University Medical Center