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Kälin, Roland E. and Glßs, Rainer (2021): APLN/APLNR Signaling Controls Key Pathological Parameters of Glioblastoma. In: Cancers, Vol. 13, No. 15, 3899

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The neurovascular peptide Apelin and its receptor APLNR are upregulated during glioblastoma pathology. Here we summarize their role in the brain tumor microenvironment composed of neurons, astrocytes, and the vascular and immune systems. Targeting APLN/APLNR signaling promises to unfold multimodal actions in future GBM therapy, acting as an anti-angiogenic and an anti-invasive treatment, and offering the possibility to reduce neurological symptoms and increase overall survival simultaneously. Glioblastoma (GBM) is the most common and aggressive primary brain tumor in adults. GBM-expansion depends on a dense vascular network and, coherently, GBMs are highly angiogenic. However, new intratumoral blood vessels are often aberrant with consequences for blood-flow and vascular barrier function. Hence, the delivery of chemotherapeutics into GBM can be compromised. Furthermore, leaky vessels support edema-formation, which can result in severe neurological deficits. The secreted signaling peptide Apelin (APLN) plays an important role in the formation of GBM blood vessels. Both APLN and the Apelin receptor (APLNR) are upregulated in GBM cells and control tumor cell invasiveness. Here we summarize the current evidence on the role of APLN/APLNR signaling during brain tumor pathology. We show that targeting APLN/APLNR can induce anti-angiogenic effects in GBM and simultaneously blunt GBM cell infiltration. In addition, we discuss how manipulation of APLN/APLNR signaling in GBM leads to the normalization of tumor vessels and thereby supports chemotherapy, reduces edema, and improves anti-tumorigenic immune reactions. Hence, therapeutic targeting of APLN/APLNR signaling offers an interesting option to address different pathological hallmarks of GBM.

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