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Glutamate transporters in the biology of malignant gliomas

Robert, Stephanie M., Sontheimer, Harald
Cellular and molecular life sciences 2014 v.71 no.10 pp. 1839-1854
amino acid transporters, brain, glutamic acid, homeostasis, neoplasms, patients, prognosis
Malignant gliomas are relentless tumors that offer a dismal clinical prognosis. They develop many biological advantages that allow them to grow and survive in the unique environment of the brain. The glutamate transporters system xc⁻and excitatory amino acid transporters (EAAT) are emerging as key players in the biology and malignancy of these tumors. Gliomas manipulate glutamate transporter expression and function to alter glutamate homeostasis in the brain, which supports their own growth, invasion, and survival. As a consequence, malignant cells are able to quickly destroy and invade surrounding normal brain. Recent findings are painting a larger picture of these transporters in glioma biology, and as such are providing opportunities for clinical intervention for patients. This review will detail the current understanding of glutamate transporters in the biology of malignant gliomas and highlight some of the unique aspects of these tumors that make them so devastating and difficult to treat.