Characterizing Seizure-Induced Changes in the Glioma Microenvironment

T. Sita, L. Hurley, C. Dussold, Sean Sachdev, Roger Stupp, A. Stegh

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


PURPOSE/OBJECTIVE(S): Growing evidence indicates that the neurotransmitters dysregulated in psychiatric disorders are similarly dysregulated in glioblastoma (GBM) biology. Patients with psychiatric disorders are classically thought of having excessive glutamate (major depression, bipolar depression), excessive dopamine (mania, psychosis), and/or insufficient serotonin (major depression, anxiety). Analogously, GBM cells are dependent on bountiful neuronal glutamate, utilize elevated dopamine receptor expression to activate the hypoxic response and augment progression, and catabolize serotonin to drive proliferation. The clinical induction of seizure, known as electroconvulsive therapy (ECT), has been used by psychiatrists since the 1930s to treat severe cases of depression, mania, psychosis, and catatonia. ECT has been shown to decrease extracellular glutamate and glutamate receptor expression in vivo and increase blood-brain barrier (BBB) permeability. ECT, then, may have previously unexplored oncologic value. We hypothesized that seizure-induced changes in the glioma microenvironment occur with ECT, increasing permeability of the BBB, slowing tumor progression, and prolonging overall survival in glioma-bearing mice. MATERIALS/METHODS: C57BL6 mice were orthotopically injected with CT-2A-Luc mouse glioma cells. Mice were randomized to receive ECT via ear-clip electrodes or sham treatment daily up to five times per week until survival endpoints were reached. Seizure duration and rates of tonic hindlimb extension were recorded. Intracranial progression was monitored via bioluminescent signal from CT-2A-Luc xenografts. BBB permeability was assessed by subjecting mice to ECT or sham treatment immediately following tail vein injection of sodium fluorescein. Mice were saline perfused and brains were harvested for fluorescent spectroscopy. RESULTS: Intracranial progression was maximally reduced in ECT-treated mice relative to sham-treated mice after 17 treatments (mean sham radiance 4.7 × 109 photons/s versus mean ECT radiance 2.6 × 109 photon/s, P = 0.013). This translated into an improvement in overall survival from median 29 days in sham-treated mice to 34.5 days in ECT-treated mice (P = 0.0018). Mean seizure duration was 41.8 seconds and positively correlated with overall survival (Pearson coefficient r = 0.63, P = 0.028). Tonic hindlimb extension occurred in 68% of seizures and positively correlated with overall survival (Pearson coefficient r = 0.72, P = 0.0078). Brain parenchymal uptake of sodium fluorescein was significantly higher in ECT-treated mice, with a mean relative increase in ECS to sham radiance of 1.47 (P < 0.05). CONCLUSION: Repeated ECT slows tumor progression and prolongs overall survival in C57BL6 mice bearing CT-2A-Luc xenografts. The BBB is compromised immediately following ECT. ECT merits further oncologic investigation as a potential therapeutic in GBM. AUTHOR DISCLOSURE: T. Sita: None. L. Hurley: None. C. Dussold: None. S. Sachdev: None. R. Stupp: Research Grant; CarThera, Paris. Consultant/ad hoc advisor for research protocol development; GT Medical Technologies, Insightec; Northwest Biotherapeutics. Scientific Advisory Board; CranioVation, TriAct, Hemispherian. IDMC of an ongoing clinical trial; Celularity. A. Stegh: None.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)e599-e600
JournalInternational journal of radiation oncology, biology, physics
Issue number3
StatePublished - Nov 1 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiation
  • Oncology
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging
  • Cancer Research


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