Targeting cholesterol metabolism in glioblastoma: A new therapeutic approach in cancer therapy

Leila Pirmoradi, Nayer Seyfizadeh, Saeid Ghavami, Amir Zeki, Shahla Shojaei

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

27 Scopus citations


Glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) is the most aggressive malignant brain tumor known with a poor survival rate despite current advances in the field of cancer. Additional research into the pathophysiology of GBM is urgently needed given the devastating nature of this disease. Recent studies have revealed the unique cellular physiology of GBM cells as compared with healthy astrocytes. Intriguingly, GBM cells are incapable of de novo cholesterol synthesis via the mevalonate pathway. Thus, the survival of GBM cells depends on cholesterol uptake via low-density lipoprotein receptors (LDLRs) in the form of apolipoprotein-E-containing lipoproteins and ATP-binding cassette transporter A1 (ABCA1) that efflux surplus cholesterol out of cells. Liver X receptors regulate intracellular cholesterol levels in neurons and healthy astrocytes through changes in the expression of LDLR and ABCA1 in response to cholesterol and its derivatives. In GBM cells, due to the dysregulation of this surveillance pathway, there is an accumulation of intracellular cholesterol. Furthermore, intracellular cholesterol regulates temozolomide-induced cell death in glioblastoma cells via accumulation and activation of death receptor 5 in plasma membrane lipid rafts. The mevalonate pathway and autophagy flux are also fundamentally related with implications for cell health and death. Thus, via cholesterol metabolism, the mevalonate pathway may be a crucial player in the pathogenesis and treatment of GBM where our current understanding is still lacking. Targeting cholesterol metabolism in GBM may hold promise as a novel adjunctive clinical therapy for this devastating cancer.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalJournal of Investigative Medicine
StatePublished - Jan 1 2019


  • Brain
  • Mevalonate pathway
  • Tumour

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)


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