Coculture assays to study macrophage and microglia stimulation of glioblastoma invasion

Salvatore Coniglio, Ian Miller, Marc Symons, Jeffrey E. Segall

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


Glioblastoma multiforme (grade IV glioma) is a very aggressive human cancer with a median survival of 1 year post diagnosis. Despite the increased understanding of the molecular events that give rise to glioblastomas, this cancer still remains highly refractory to conventional treatment. Surgical resection of high grade brain tumors is rarely complete due to the highly infiltrative nature of glioblastoma cells. Therapeutic approaches which attenuate glioblastoma cell invasion therefore is an attractive option. Our laboratory and others have shown that tumor associated macrophages and microglia (resident brain macrophages) strongly stimulate glioblastoma invasion. The protocol described in this paper is used to model glioblastoma-macrophage/microglia interaction using in vitro culture assays. This approach can greatly facilitate the development and/or discovery of drugs that disrupt the communication with the macrophages that enables this malignant behavior. We have established two robust coculture invasion assays where microglia/macrophages stimulate glioma cell invasion by 5-10 fold. Glioblastoma cells labelled with a fluorescent marker or constitutively expressing a fluorescent protein are plated without and with macrophages/microglia on matrixcoated polycarbonate chamber inserts or embedded in a three dimensional matrix. Cell invasion is assessed by using fluorescent microscopy to image and count only invasive cells on the underside of the filter. Using these assays, several pharmacological inhibitors (JNJ-28312141, PLX3397, Gefitinib, and Semapimod), have been identified which block macrophage/microglia stimulated glioblastoma invasion.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere53990
JournalJournal of Visualized Experiments
Issue number116
StatePublished - Oct 20 2016


  • Cancer research
  • Glioblastoma
  • Glioma
  • Invasion
  • Issue 116
  • Malignancy
  • Microenvironment
  • Microglia

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Neuroscience
  • General Chemical Engineering
  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • General Immunology and Microbiology


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