Ph.D. Biochemistry, University of Minnesota
Gliomas are aggressive brain tumors with poor prognosis. In this study, we report a novel approach combining both in vivo multi-parametric MRI and in vitro cell culture assessments to evaluate the pathogenic development of gliomas. Osteopontin (OPN), a pleiotropic factor, has been implicated in the formation and progression of various human cancers, including gliomas, through its functions in regulating cell proliferation, survival, angiogenesis, and migration. Using rat C6 glioma model, the combined approach successfully monitors the acquisition and decrease of cancer hallmarks. We show that knockdown of the expression of OPN reduces C6 cell proliferation, survival, viability and clonogenicity in vitro, and reduces tumor burden and prolongs animal survival in syngeneic rats. OPN depletion is associated with reduced tumor growth, decreased angiogenesis, and an increase of tumor-associated metabolites, as revealed by T2-weighted images, diffusion-weighted images, Ktrans maps, and 1H-MRS, respectively. These strategies allow us to define an important role of OPN in conferring cancer hallmarks, which can be further applied to assess the functional roles of other candidate genes in glioma. In particular, the non-invasive multi-parametric MRI measurement of cancer hallmarks related to proliferation, angiogenesis and altered metabolism may serve as a useful tool for diagnosis and for patient management.