Cancer Cells Form Synaptic Connections with Neurons

GEN | September 23, 2019

In aggressive glioblastoma, cancer cells plug into the brain’s neuronal network and receive impulses that appear to stimulate tumor growth. These impulses, which are transmitted via synaptic connections, may explain how brain tumors spread so quickly. They may also be subject to jamming—that is, to interference by drugs. If so, it may be possible to pull the plug on brain cancer. The shocking discovery that cancer tissue, like brain tissue, may be electrically active was reported by scientists from Heidelberg University Hospital and the German Cancer Research Center. In a paper (“Glutamatergic synaptic input to glioma cells drives brain tumor progression”) that appeared in Nature, these scientists noted that previous research had already established that glioblastoma cells connect with one another rather like neurons. This finding has been extended in the new research, which argues that tumor cells not only interconnect like neurons, they also interconnect with neurons. Even more intriguingly, the interconnections are active. “We report a direct communication channel between neurons and glioma cells in different disease models and human tumors: functional bona fide chemical synapses between presynaptic neurons and postsynaptic glioma cells,” the authors of the Nature article wrote. “These neurogliomal synapses show a typical synaptic ultrastructure, are located on tumor microtubes, and produce postsynaptic currents that are mediated by glutamate receptors of the AMPA subtype.”

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Introducing Southern Biological Tutorial series. Step by Step Tutorial for our pGreen Bacterial transformation Biolab.

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Introducing Southern Biological Tutorial series. Step by Step Tutorial for our pGreen Bacterial transformation Biolab.

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Serotiny | March 01, 2022

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