Human glioblastoma-associated microglia/monocytes express a distinct RNA profile compared to human control and murine samples


  • F. Szulzewsky
  • S. Arora
  • L. de Witte
  • T. Ulas
  • D. Markovic
  • J.L. Schultze
  • E.C. Holland
  • M. Synowitz
  • S.A. Wolf
  • H. Kettenmann


  • Glia


  • Glia 64 (8): 1416-1436


  • Glioblastoma (GBM) is the most aggressive brain tumor in adults. It is strongly infiltrated by microglia and peripheral monocytes that support tumor growth. In the present study we used RNA sequencing to compare the expression profile of CD11b(+) human glioblastoma-associated microglia/monocytes (hGAMs) to CD11b(+) microglia isolated from non-tumor samples. Hierarchical clustering and principal component analysis showed a clear separation of the two sample groups and we identified 334 significantly regulated genes in hGAMs. In comparison to human control microglia hGAMs upregulated genes associated with mitotic cell cycle, cell migration, cell adhesion, and extracellular matrix organization. We validated the expression of several genes associated with extracellular matrix organization in samples of human control microglia, hGAMs, and the hGAMs-depleted fraction via qPCR. The comparison to murine GAMs (mGAMs) showed that both cell populations share a significant fraction of upregulated transcripts compared with their respective controls. These genes were mostly related to mitotic cell cycle. However, in contrast to murine cells, human GAMs did not upregulate genes associated to immune activation. Comparison of human and murine GAMs expression data to several data sets of in vitro-activated human macrophages and murine microglia showed that, in contrast to mGAMs, hGAMs share a smaller overlap to these data sets in general and in particular to cells activated by proinflammatory stimulation with LPS + INF{gamma} or TNF{alpha}. Our findings provide new insights into the biology of human glioblastoma-associated microglia/monocytes and give detailed information about the validity of murine experimental models.