Glial tumors are the main primary adult brain tumor. Even with the most advanced treatments, which include stereotactic microscope aided surgical resection, internal and external radiation therapy and local and systemic chemotherapy, median survival time for patients diagnosed with these malignancies is about 12 months. We explore here the possibility that the endoplasmic reticulum stress response (ERSR) could be a possible target to develop chemotherapeutic agents to induce toxicity in glioma cells. ERSR has the dual capacity of activating repair and/or cytotoxic mechanisms. ERSR is triggered by the accumulation of unfolded proteins in the ER. The presence of unfolded proteins in the ER regulates, via a complex biochemical cascade, the upregulation of molecular chaperones, inhibition of protein synthesis, and an increase of proteasome mediated unfolded protein degradation. ERSR in particular conditions can also contribute to cell death via activation of programmed cell death. Apoptosis activation during ERSR is usually caused by the activation of one or a combination of three biochemical cascades. Induction of these pathways ultimately leads to caspase 3 activation culminating in apoptosis. Glioma cells are in a condition of constant low grade ERSR, which possibly contributes to their resistance to treatment protocols. It is conceivable that small molecules that interact with this phenomenon ultimately could be used to modulate the system to activate apoptosis and cause gliotoxicity. We will discuss here ERSR biochemically relevant features to death mechanisms and already identified small molecules that by modulating ERSR are able to activate glioma cell death.
Keywords: Endoplasmic reticulum stress response, glioma, calcium, apoptosis, caspase 4/12, small molecules, gliotoxicit
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