Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science in Biology



First Reader/Committee Chair

Nicole Bournias-Vardiabasis


Glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) is the most lethal primary central nervous system tumor, with median survival after diagnosis of less than 12 months because dissemination into the brain parenchyma limits the long-term effectiveness of surgical resection, and because GBM cells are resistant to radiation and chemotherapy. This sad dismal prognosis for patients with GBM emphasizes the need for greater understand of the fundamental biology of the disease.

Invasion is one of the major causes of treatment failure and death from glioma, because disseminated tumor cells provide the seeds for tumor recurrence. Inflammation is increasingly recognized as an important component of invasion. In the brain, inflammation can occur by activation of microglia, the resident macrophages of the brain, or by tumor-associated blood macrophages. Therefore, we hypothesize that activity of the innate immune system in the brain can influence tumor progression by secreting cytokines such as Tumor Necrosis Factor alpha (TNF-α). In this study, we show that patient-derived glioma spheres undergo morphological changes in response to TNF‑α that are associated with changes in migration behavior in vitro. These morphological changes include appearance of tumor islands in site different from where the primary tumor cells were seeded. We further showed that TNF‑α treated cells significantly increased expression of cell adhesion molecules such as CD44 and VCAM-1. Furthermore, we demonstrate increased cell density also caused increased in expression of cell adhesion molecules. The extent to which these are recapitulated in vivo will be investigated.