Email updates

Keep up to date with the latest news and content from Radiation Oncology and BioMed Central.

Open Access Highly Accessed Open Badges Research

Post-radiation increase in VEGF enhances glioma cell motility in vitro

Whoon Jong Kil, Philip J Tofilon and Kevin Camphausen*

Author Affiliations

Radiation Oncology Branch, National Cancer Institute, 10 Center Drive, Bldg 10, CRC, B2-3561, Bethesda, MD 20892, USA

For all author emails, please log on.

Radiation Oncology 2012, 7:25  doi:10.1186/1748-717X-7-25

Published: 22 February 2012



Glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) is among the most lethal of all human tumors, with frequent local recurrences after radiation therapy (RT). The mechanism accounting for such a recurrence pattern is unclear. It has classically been attributed to local recurrence of treatment-resistant cells. However, accumulating evidence suggests that additional mechanisms exist that involve the migration of tumor or tumor stem cells from other brain regions to tumor bed. VEGFs are well-known mitogens and can be up-regulated after RT. Here, we examine the effect of irradiation-induced VEGF on glioma cell motility.

Materials and methods

U251 and LN18 cell lines were used to generate irradiated-conditioned medium (IR-CM). At 72 h after irradiation, the supernatants were harvested. VEGF level in IR-CM was quantified by ELISA, and expression levels for VEGF mRNA were detected by RT-PCR. In vitro cancer cell motility was measured in chambers coated with/without Matrigel and IR-CM as a cell motility enhancer and a VEGF antibody as a neutralizer of VEGF bioactivity. Immunoblots were performed to evaluate the activity of cell motility-related kinases. Proliferation of GBM cells after treatment was measured by flow cytometry.


Irradiation increased the level of VEGF mRNA that was mitigated by pre-RT exposure to Actinomycin D. U251 glioma cell motility (migration and invasion) was enhanced by adding IR-CM to un-irradiated cells (174.9 ± 11.4% and 334.2 ± 46% of control, respectively). When we added VEGF antibody to IR-CM, this enhanced cell motility was negated (110.3 ± 12.0% and 105.7 ± 14.0% of control, respectively). Immunoblot analysis revealed that IR-CM increased phosphorylation of VEGF receptor-2 (VEGFR2) secondary to an increase in VEGF, with a concomitant increase of phosphorylation of the downstream targets (Src and FAK). Increased phosphorylation was mitigated by adding VEGF antibody to IR-CM. There was no difference in the mitotic index of GBM cells treated with and without IR-CM and VEGF.


These results indicate that cell motility can be enhanced by conditioned medium from irradiated cells in vitro through stimulation of VEGFR2 signaling pathways and suggest that this effect involves the secretion of radiation-induced VEGF, leading to an increase in glioma cell motility.

Radiation; VEGF; glioma cell; motility