Glioma stem cells but not bulk glioma cells upregulate IL-6 secretion in microglia/brain macrophages via toll-like receptor 4 signaling


  • O.D. a Dzaye
  • F. Hu
  • K. Derkow
  • V. Haage
  • P. Euskirchen
  • C. Harms
  • S. Lehnardt
  • M. Synowitz
  • S.A. Wolf
  • H. Kettenmann


  • Journal of Neuropathology and Experimental Neurology


  • J Neuropathol Exp Neurol 75 (5): 429-440


  • 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.