Impact of CD133 positive stem cell proportion on survival in patients with glioblastoma multiforme

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Background. The aim of the study was to assess the impact of CD133-positive (CD133+) cancer stem cell proportions on treatment results of glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) patients.

Patients and methods. Patients with GBM (n = 42) received postoperative radiotherapy (± chemotherapy). Surgically excised GBM tissue sections were immunohistochemically examined for CD133 expression. The proportions of CD133+ GBM cells were determined (%). The proportion of CD133+ GBM stem cells was established by 2 independent researchers whose results were in good accordance (R = 0.8, p < 0.01). Additionally, CD133 expression levels were correlated with patients overall survival.

Results. The proportion of CD133+ cells varied between patients, being from 0.5% to 82%. Mean and median proportions of CD133+ cells of the entire study group were 33% ± 24% (mean ± SD) and 28%, respectively. Clinical data do not support the association between higher proportion of stem cells and the aggressiveness of GBM. Median survival time of the study group was 10.0 months (95% CI 9.0-11.0). The survival time clearly depended on the proportion of CD133+ cells (log rank test, p = 0.02). Median survival times for patients with low (< median) and high (≥ median) proportion of CD133+ cells were 9.0 months (95% CI 7.6-10.5) and 12.0 months (95% CI 9.3-14.7), respectively. In multivariate analysis, the proportion of CD133+ cells emerged as a significant independent predictor for longer overall survival (HR 2.0, 95% CI 1.0-3.8, p = 0.04).

Conclusions. In patients with higher stem cell proportion, significantly longer survival times after postoperative radiotherapy were achieved. Underlying reasons and possible higher sensitivity of GBM stem cells to fractionated radiotherapy should be clarified in further studies.

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