International journal of oncology

Plastic induction of CD133AC133-positive cells in the microenvironment of glioblastoma spheroids.

PMID 24897999


Recent studies showed that the stemness of cancer stem cells is maintained under a hypoxic microenvironment. However, the relationship of the hypoxic microenvironment in a three-dimensional cell mass and the induction of cancer stem cell-like phenotype is not well known. We examined the relationship between CD133 expression and the hypoxic microenvironment using glioblastoma spheroids formed with the T98G cell line. CD133(AC133)- and HIF-1α-positive cells were observed in the marginal region of the central hypoxic area positive for HIF-1α 10 days after plating T98G cells. CD133(AC133)-positive cells were positive for nestin. Quantitative PCR analysis showed that the CD133 expression level is not different in spheroids during the tested period after spheroid formation, indicating that post-translational regulation of the CD133 protein mediates positivity to CD133(AC133). When spheroids were trypsinized and the dissociated cells were cultured under the adherent monolayer conditions, the CD133(AC133)-positive cells gradually disappeared. These results show that CD133(AC133)-positive cells, which may incline toward undifferentiated cells because of nestin positivity, are plastically induced under the different culture conditions, spheroid and monolayer. In this plasticity, HIF-1α is involved in the induction and maintenance of CD133(AC133)-positive cells. Spheroids as an in vitro tumor model are useful to study the dynamic changes in the tumor cell phenotype in the different cell microenvironments.