Glioma-mediated microglial activation promotes glioma proliferation and migration: roles of Na+/H+ exchanger isoform 1

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Microglia play important roles in extracellular matrix remodeling, tumor invasion, angiogenesis, and suppression of adaptive immunity in glioma. Na+/H+ exchanger isoform 1 (NHE1) regulates microglial activation and migration. However, little is known about the roles of NHE1 in intratumoral microglial activation and microglia–glioma interactions. Our study revealed up-regulation of NHE1 protein expression in both glioma cells and tumor-associated Iba1+ microglia in glioma xenografts and glioblastoma multiforme microarrays. Moreover, we observed positive correlation of NHE1 expression with Iba1 intensity in microglia/macrophages. Glioma cells, via conditioned medium or non-contact glioma-microglia co-cultures, concurrently upregulated microglial expression of NHE1 protein and other microglial activation markers (iNOS, arginase-1, TGF-β, IL-6, IL-10 and the matrix metalloproteinases MT1-MMP and MMP9). Interestingly, glioma-stimulated microglia reciprocally enhanced glioma proliferation and migration. Most importantly, inhibition of microglial NHE1 activity via small interfering RNA (siRNA) knockdown or the potent NHE1-specific inhibitor HOE642 significantly attenuated microglial activation and abolished microglia-stimulated glioma migration and proliferation. Taken together, our findings provide the first evidence that NHE1 function plays an important role in glioma–microglia interactions, enhancing glioma proliferation and invasion by stimulating microglial release of soluble factors. NHE1 upregulation is a novel marker of the glioma-associated microglial activation phenotype. Inhibition of NHE1 represents a novel glioma therapeutic strategy by targeting tumor-induced microglial activation.

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