3D Mathematical modeling of glioblastoma suggests that transdifferentiated vascular endothelial cells promote resistance to current standard-of-care therapy.
Published Web Locationhttps://doi.org/10.1200/JCO.2017.35.15_suppl.e13535
e13535 Background: Glioblastoma (GBM), the most aggressive brain tumor in human patients, is highly heterogeneous and intensively vascularized. Glioma stem/initiating cells (GSC) are found to play a crucial role by increasing cancer aggressiveness and by promoting resistance to therapy. Recently, crosstalk between GSCs and vascular endothelial cells that line capillaries has been shown to considerably promote GSC self-renewal and tumor progression. GSCs have been shown to also transdifferentiate into bona-fide vascular endothelial cells (GEC). GECs inherit mutations present in GSCs and are resistant to traditional anti-angiogenic therapies. Methods: We develop a multispecies mathematical model to investigate the 3D spatiotemporal dynamics of vascularized GBM progression and response to cancer therapies. Results: The model predicts GSCs drive invasive fingering and that GECs spontaneously form a network within the hypoxic core, consistent with published experimental findings. We demonstrate that standard-of-care treatments using DNA-targeted therapy (radiation/chemo) together with anti-angiogenic therapies reduce GBM tumor sizes but increase invasiveness. Anti-GEC treatments block the GEC support of GSCs and reduce tumor sizes but can lead to increased invasiveness. Anti-GSC therapies that promote differentiation or disturb the stem cell niche effectively reduce tumor invasiveness and sizes, but are ultimately limited in reducing tumor sizes because GECs can maintain GSCs. Anti-GEC therapies are required to remove the tumor completely. Conclusions: Our results suggest that a combinatorial regimen targeting the vasculature, GSCs and GECs, using drugs already approved by the FDA, can reduce both tumor sizes and invasiveness and could lead to tumor eradication without recurrence when the treatment is stopped.