Ion Channels in Glioma Malignancy

Luigi Catacuzzeno, Luigi Sforna, Vincenzo Esposito, Cristina Limatola, Fabio Franciolini

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Brain tumors come in many types and differ greatly in outcome. They are classified by the cell of origin (astrocytoma, ependymoma, meningioma, medulloblastoma, glioma), although more recently molecular markers are used in addition to histology. Brain tumors are graded (from I to IV) to measure their malignancy. Glioblastoma, one of the most common adult primary brain tumors, displays the highest malignancy (grade IV), and median survival of about 15 months. Main reasons for poor outcome are incomplete surgical resection, due to the highly invasive potential of glioblastoma cells, and chemoresistance that commonly develops during drug treatment. An important role in brain tumor malignancy is played by ion channels. The Ca2+-activated K+ channels of large and intermediate conductance, KCa3.1 and KCa1.1, and the volume-regulated anion channel, whose combined activity results in the extrusion of KCl and osmotic water, control cell volume, and in turn migration, invasion, and apoptotic cell death. The transient receptor potential (TRP) channels and low threshold-activated Ca (T-type) channels have equally critical role in brain tumor malignancy, as dysregulated Ca2+ signals heavily impact on glioma cell proliferation, migration, invasion. The review provides an overview of the current evidence involving these channels in brain tumor malignancy, and the application of these insights in the light of future prospects for experimental and clinical practice.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)223-267
JournalReviews of Physiology Biochemistry and Pharmacology
Publication statusPublished - 2021


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