Sodium ion channel mutations in glioblastoma patients correlate with shorter survival

Avadhut D. Joshi, D. W. Parsons, Victor E. Velculescu, Gregory J. Riggins

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

42 Scopus citations


Background: Glioblastoma Multiforme (GBM) is the most common and invasive astrocytic tumor associated with dismal prognosis. Treatment for GBM patients has advanced, but the median survival remains a meager 15 months. In a recent study, 20,000 genes from 21 GBM patients were sequenced that identified frequent mutations in ion channel genes. The goal of this study was to determine whether ion channel mutations have a role in disease progression and whether molecular targeting of ion channels is a promising therapeutic strategy for GBM patients. Therefore, we compared GBM patient survival on the basis of presence or absence of mutations in calcium, potassium and sodium ion transport genes. Cardiac glycosides, known sodium channel inhibitors, were then tested for their ability to inhibit GBM cell proliferation.Results: Nearly 90% of patients showed at least one mutation in ion transport genes. GBM patients with mutations in sodium channels showed a significantly shorter survival compared to patients with no sodium channel mutations, whereas a similar comparison based on mutational status of calcium or potassium ion channel mutations showed no survival differences. Experimentally, targeting GBM cells with cardiac glycosides such as digoxin and ouabain demonstrated preferential cytotoxicity against U-87 and D54 GBM cells compared to non-tumor astrocytes (NTAs).Conclusions: These pilot studies of GBM patients with sodium channel mutations indicate an association with a more aggressive disease and significantly shorter survival. Moreover, inhibition of GBM cells by ion channel inhibitors such as cardiac glycosides suggest a therapeutic strategy with relatively safe drugs for targeting GBM ion channel mutations. Key Words: glioblastoma multiforme, ion channels, mutations, small molecule inhibitors, cardiac glycosides.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number17
JournalMolecular Cancer
StatePublished - Feb 11 2011

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Medicine
  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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