Glioblastoma (GBM) is amongst the deadliest types of cancers, with no resolutive cure currently available. GBM cell proliferation in the patient’s brain is a complex phenomenon controlled by multiple mechanisms. The aim of this study was to determine whether the ionic fluxes controlling cell duplication could represent a target for GBM therapy. In this work, we combined multi-channel Ca2+ and Cl imaging, optical tweezers, electrophysiology, and immunohistochemistry to describe the role of ion fluxes in mediating the cell volume changes that accompany mitosis of U87 GBM cells. We identified three main steps: (i) in round GBM cells undergoing mitosis, during the transition from anaphase to telophase and cytokinesis, large Ca2+ flares occur, reaching values of 0.5 to 1 μmol/L; (ii) these Ca2+ flares activate Ca2+-dependent Cl channels, allowing the entry of Cl ions; and (iii) to maintain osmotic balance, GBM cells swell to complete mitosis. This sequence of steps was validated by electrophysiological experiments showing that Cl channels are activated either directly or indirectly by Ca2+, and by additional live-cell imaging experiments. Cl channel blockers with different molecular structures, such as niflumic acid and carbenoxolone, blocked GBM replication by arresting GBM cells in a round configuration. These results describe the central role of Ca2+ flares and Cl fluxes during mitosis and show that inhibition of Ca2+-activated Cl channels blocks GBM replication, opening the way to new approaches for the clinical treatment of GBM.

Implications: Our work identifies ionic fluxes occurring during cell division as targets for devising novel therapies for glioblastoma treatment.

This content is only available via PDF.
You do not currently have access to this content.