The transplantation of neural stem cells (NSCs) offers a new potential therapeutic approach as a cell-based delivery system for gene therapy in brain tumors. This is based on the unique capacity of NSCs to migrate throughout the brain and to target invading tumor cells. However, the signals controlling the targeted migration of transplanted NSCs are poorly defined. We analyzed the in vitro and in vivo effects of angiogenic growth factors and protein extracts from surgical specimens of brain tumor patients on NSC migration. Here, we demonstrate that vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) is able to induce a long-range attraction of transplanted human NSCs from distant sites in the adult brain. Our results indicate that tumor-upregulated VEGF and angiogenic-activated microvasculature are relevant guidance signals for NSC tropism toward brain tumors.
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