Bone morphogenetic protein 4 targeting glioma stem-like cells for malignant glioma treatment: Latest advances and implications for clinical application

Sonali Nayak, Ashorne Mahenthiran, Yongyong Yang, Mark McClendon, Barbara Mania-Farnell, Charles David James, John A. Kessler, Tadanori Tomita, Shi Yuan Cheng, Samuel I. Stupp, Guifa Xi*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article


Malignant gliomas are heterogeneous neoplasms. Glioma stem-like cells (GSCs) are undifferentiated and self-renewing cells that develop and maintain these tumors. These cells are the main population that resist current therapies. Genomic and epigenomic analyses has identified various molecular subtypes. Bone morphogenetic protein 4 (BMP4) reduces the number of GSCs through differentiation and induction of apoptosis, thus increasing therapeutic sensitivity. However, the short half-life of BMP4 impedes its clinical application. We previously reviewed BMP4 signaling in central nervous system development and glioma tumorigenesis and its potential as a treatment target in human gliomas. Recent advances in understanding both adult and pediatric malignant gliomas highlight critical roles of BMP4 signaling pathways in the regulation of tumor biology, and indicates its potential as a therapeutic molecule. Furthermore, significant progress has been made on synthesizing BMP4 biocompatible delivery materials, which can bind to and markedly extend BMP4 half-life. Here, we review current research associated with BMP4 in brain tumors, with an emphasis on pediatric malignant gliomas. We also summarize BMP4 delivery strategies, highlighting biocompatible BMP4 binding peptide amphiphile nanostructures as promising novel delivery platforms for treatment of these devastating tumors.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number516
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2020



  • Bone morphogenetic protein 4
  • Clinical application
  • Delivery
  • Malignant glioma
  • Molecular mechanism

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research

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