Glioma Stem Cells but Not Bulk Glioma Cells Upregulate IL-6 Secretion in Microglia/Brain Macrophages via Toll-like Receptor 4 Signaling

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Abstract

Peripheral macrophages and resident microglia constitute the dominant glioma-infiltrating cells. The tumor induces an immunosuppressive and tumor-supportive phenotype in these glioma-associated microglia/brain macrophages (GAMs). A subpopulation of glioma cells acts as glioma stem cells (GSCs). We explored the interaction between GSCs and GAMs. Using CD133 as a marker of stemness, we enriched for or deprived the mouse glioma cell line GL261 of GSCs by fluorescence-activated cell sorting (FACS). Over the same period of time, 100 CD133+ GSCs had the capacity to form a tumor of comparable size to the ones formed by 10,000 CD133- GL261 cells. In IL-6-/- mice, only tumors formed by CD133+ cells were smaller compared with wild type. After stimulation of primary cultured microglia with medium from CD133-enriched GL261 glioma cells, we observed an selective upregulation in microglial IL-6 secretion dependent on Toll-like receptor (TLR) 4. Our results show that GSCs, but not the bulk glioma cells, initiate microglial IL-6 secretion via TLR4 signaling and that IL-6 regulates glioma growth by supporting GSCs. Using human glioma tissue, we could confirm the finding that GAMs are the major source of IL-6 in the tumor context.

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