Glioblastoma cell migration is directed by electrical signals

Hannah Clancy, Michal Pruski, Bing Lang, Jared Ching, Colin D. McCaig

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Electric field (EF) directed cell migration (electrotaxis) is known to occur in glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) and neural stem cells, with key signalling pathways frequently dysregulated in GBM. One such pathway is EGFR/PI3K/Akt, which is down-regulated by peroxisome proliferator activated receptor gamma (PPARγ) agonists. We investigated the effect of electric fields on primary differentiated and glioma stem cell (GSCs) migration, finding opposing preferences for anodal and cathodal migration, respectively. We next sought to determine whether chemically disrupting Akt through PTEN upregulation with the PPARγ agonist, pioglitazone, would modulate electrotaxis of these cells. We found that directed cell migration was significantly inhibited with the addition of pioglitazone in both differentiated GBM and GSCs subtypes. Western blot analysis did not demonstrate any change in PPARγ expression with and without exposure to EF. In summary we demonstrate opposing EF responses in primary GBM differentiated cells and GSCs can be inhibited chemically by pioglitazone, implicating GBM EF modulation as a potential target in preventing tumour recurrence.

Original languageEnglish
Article number112736
JournalExperimental Cell Research
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2021


  • Electric fields
  • Galvanotaxis
  • Glioblastoma
  • Glioma stem cells


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