Fluorescence-guided surgical sampling of glioblastoma identifies phenotypically distinct tumour-initiating cell populations in the tumour mass and margin

S. G.M. Piccirillo, S. Dietz, B. Madhu, J. Griffiths, S. J. Price, V. P. Collins, C. Watts

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

71 Scopus citations


Background: Acquiring clinically annotated, spatially stratified tissue samples from human glioblastoma (GBM) is compromised by haemorrhage, brain shift and subjective identification of normal brain. We tested the use of 5-aminolevulinic acid (5-ALA) fluorescence to objective tissue sampling and to derive tumour-initiating cells (TICs) from mass and margin.Methods:The 5-ALA was administered to 30 GBM patients. Samples were taken from the non-fluorescent necrotic core, fluorescent tumour mass and non-fluorescent margin. We compared the efficiency of isolating TICs from these areas in 5-ALA versus control patients. HRMAS 1 H NMR was used to reveal metabolic alterations due to 5-ALA. We then characterised TICs for self-renewal in vitro and tumorigenicity in vivo.Results:The derivation of TICs was not compromised by 5-ALA and the metabolic profile was similar between tumours from 5-ALA patients and controls. The TICs from the fluorescent mass were self-renewing in vitro and tumour-forming in vivo, whereas TICs from non-fluorescent margin did not self-renew in vitro but did form tumours in vivo.Conclusion:Our data show that 5-ALA does not compromise the derivation of TICs. It also reveals that the margin contains TICs, which are phenotypically different from those isolated from the corresponding mass.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)462-468
Number of pages7
JournalBritish journal of cancer
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jul 24 2012



  • 5-ALA
  • human glioblastoma
  • tumour margin
  • tumour-initiating cells

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research

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