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Biomedical Reviews

The stem cell connection of primary brain tumors

Marin Guentchev


Gliomas account for more than half of adult primary intracranial tumors, with anaplastic astrocytomas and glioblastoma multiforme (also known as malignant gliomas) being the most common. Plethora of evidence supports the notion that malignant glioma and other types of primary brain tumors arise from cells with stem cell/progenitor cell properties. To designate this cellular population a novel term has been introduced: glioma stem cells. These cells form a small subset of all cancer cells and share some features of normal stem cells, e.g. a capacity for self-renewal, multipotency and relative quiescence. These chemo- and radiation resistant cells are mainly responsible for maintaining tumor volume leading to therapy failure and recurrence. This review summarizes new findings on the interaction between the glioma stem cells, the tumor micro-environment, and specific cancer-causing genetic changes in the evolution of primary central nervous system tumors.

Biomedical Reviews 2009; 20: 31-39.

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About The Author

Marin Guentchev
University Emergency Hospital Pirogov of Sofia

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