ROCK inhibition facilitates in vitro expansion of glioblastoma stem-like cells

Academic Article


  • Due to their stem-like characteristics and their resistance to existing chemo- and radiation therapies, there is a growing appreciation that cancer stem cells (CSCs) are the root cause behind cancer metastasis and recurrence. However, these cells represent a small subpopulation of cancer cells and are difficult to propagate in vitro. Glioblastoma is an extremely deadly form of brain cancer that is hypothesized to have a subpopulation of CSCs called glioblastoma stem cells (GSCs; also called brain tumor initiating cells, BTICs). We propose the use of selective Rho-kinase (ROCK) inhibitors, Y-27632 and fasudil, to promote GSC/BTIC-like cell survival and propagation in vitro. ROCK inhibitors have been implicated in suppressing apoptosis, and it was hypothesized that they would increase the number of GSC/BTIC-like cells grown in vitro and improve cloning efficiencies. Indeed, our data demonstrate that transient and continuous supplementation of non-toxic concentrations of Y-27632 and fasudil inhibited apoptosis, enhanced the cells' ability to form spheres, and increased stem cell marker expressing GSC/BTIC-like cell subpopulation. Our data indicated that pharmacological and genetic (siRNA) inhibitions of the ROCK pathway facilitates in vitro expansion of GSC/BTIC-like cells. Thus, ROCK pathway inhibition shows promise for future optimization of CSC culture media.
  • Published In

  • PLoS One  Journal
  • Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Tilson SG; Haley EM; Triantafillu UL; Dozier DA; Langford CP; Gillespie GY; Kim Y; Hjelmeland AB
  • Volume

  • 10
  • Issue

  • 7