Necrotic reshaping of the glioma microenvironment drives disease progression

Steven M. Markwell, James L. Ross, Cheryl L. Olson, Daniel J. Brat*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Glioblastoma is the most common primary brain tumor and has a dismal prognosis. The development of central necrosis represents a tipping point in the evolution of these tumors that foreshadows aggressive expansion, swiftly leading to mortality. The onset of necrosis, severe hypoxia and associated radial glioma expansion correlates with dramatic tumor microenvironment (TME) alterations that accelerate tumor growth. In the past, most have concluded that hypoxia and necrosis must arise due to “cancer outgrowing its blood supply” when rapid tumor growth outpaces metabolic supply, leading to diffusion-limited hypoxia. However, growing evidence suggests that microscopic intravascular thrombosis driven by the neoplastic overexpression of pro-coagulants attenuates glioma blood supply (perfusion-limited hypoxia), leading to TME restructuring that includes breakdown of the blood–brain barrier, immunosuppressive immune cell accumulation, microvascular hyperproliferation, glioma stem cell enrichment and tumor cell migration outward. Cumulatively, these adaptations result in rapid tumor expansion, resistance to therapeutic interventions and clinical progression. To inform future translational investigations, the complex interplay among environmental cues and myriad cell types that contribute to this aggressive phenotype requires better understanding. This review focuses on contributions from intratumoral thrombosis, the effects of hypoxia and necrosis, the adaptive and innate immune responses, and the current state of targeted therapeutic interventions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)291-310
Number of pages20
JournalActa Neuropathologica
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2022


  • Glioblastoma
  • Necrosis
  • Tumor-associated macrophages

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience


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