The dynamic interplay between glioblastoma stem cells (GSC) and tumor-associated macrophages (TAM) sculpts the tumor immune microenvironment (TIME) and promotes malignant progression of glioblastoma (GBM). However, the mechanisms underlying this interaction are still incompletely understood. Here, we investigate the role of CXCL8 in the maintenance of the mesenchymal state of GSC populations and reprogramming the TIME to an immunosuppressive state.

Experimental Design:

We performed an integrative multi-omics analyses of RNA sequencing, GBM mRNA expression datasets, immune signatures, and epigenetic profiling to define the specific genes expressed in the mesenchymal GSC subsets. We then used patient-derived GSCs and a xenograft murine model to investigate the mechanisms of tumor-intrinsic and extrinsic factor to maintain the mesenchymal state of GSCs and induce TAM polarization.


We identified that CXCL8 was preferentially expressed and secreted by mesenchymal GSCs and activated PI3K/AKT and NF-κB signaling to maintain GSC proliferation, survival, and self-renewal through a cell-intrinsic mechanism. CXCL8 induced signaling through a CXCR2–JAK2/STAT3 axis in TAMs, which supported an M2-like TAM phenotype through a paracrine, cell-extrinsic pathway. Genetic- and small molecule–based inhibition of these dual complementary signaling cascades in GSCs and TAMs suppressed GBM tumor growth and prolonged survival of orthotopic xenograft-bearing mice.


CXCL8 plays critical roles in maintaining the mesenchymal state of GSCs and M2-like TAM polarization in GBM, highlighting an interplay between cell-autonomous and cell-extrinsic mechanisms. Targeting CXCL8 and its downstream effectors may effectively improve GBM treatment.

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