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Glioblastoma Regression by Regulating Astrocytes' Immunometabolic Signaling

Malignant brain tumors are the cause of a disproportionate level of morbidity and mortality among cancer patients, an unfortunate statistic that has remained constant for decades. Despite considerable advances in the molecular characterization of these tumors, targeting the cancer cells has yet to produce significant advances in treatment

An alternative strategy is to target cells in the glioblastoma microenvironment, such as tumor associated astrocytes. Astrocytes control multiple processes in health and disease, ranging from maintaining the brain's metabolic homeostasis, to modulating neuroinflammation. However, their role in glioblastoma pathogenicity is not well understood. We found that the depletion of reactive astrocytes regresses glioblastoma and prolongs mouse survival. Analysis of the tumor-associated astrocyte translatome, revealed that astrocytes initiate transcriptional programs that shape the immune and metabolic compartments in the glioma microenvironment. Specifically, their expression of CCL2 and CSF1 governs the recruitment of tumor-associated macrophages and promotes a pro-tumorigenic macrophage phenotype. Concomitantly, we demonstrate that astrocyte-derived cholesterol is key to glioma cell survival, and that targeting astrocytic cholesterol efflux, via ABCA1, halts tumor progression. In summary, astrocytes control glioblastoma pathogenicity by reprogramming the immunological properties of the tumor microenvironment and supporting the non-oncogenic metabolic dependency of glioblastoma on cholesterol.

US Provisional Patent Application No. 63/325,655