Propofol Inhibits Glioma Stem Cell Growth and Migration and Their Interaction with Microglia via BDNF-AS and Extracellular Vesicles

Rephael Nizar, Simona Cazacu, Cunli Xiang, Matan Krasner, Efrat Barbiro-Michaely, Doron Gerber, Jonathan Schwartz, Iris Fried, Shira Yuval, Aharon Brodie, Gila Kazimirsky, Naama Amos, Ron Unger, Stephen Brown, Lisa Rogers, Donald H. Penning, Chaya Brodie

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Glioblastoma (GBM) is the most common and aggressive primary brain tumor. GBM contains a small subpopulation of glioma stem cells (GSCs) that are implicated in treatment resistance, tumor infiltration, and recurrence, and are thereby considered important therapeutic targets. Recent clinical studies have suggested that the choice of general anesthetic (GA), particularly propofol, during tumor resection, affects subsequent tumor response to treatments and patient prognosis. In this study, we investigated the molecular mechanisms underlying propofol’s anti-tumor effects on GSCs and their interaction with microglia cells. Propofol exerted a dose-dependent inhibitory effect on the self-renewal, expression of mesenchymal markers, and migration of GSCs and sensitized them to both temozolomide (TMZ) and radiation. At higher concentrations, propofol induced a large degree of cell death, as demonstrated using microfluid chip technology. Propofol increased the expression of the lncRNA BDNF-AS, which acts as a tumor suppressor in GBM, and silencing of this lncRNA partially abrogated propofol’s effects. Propofol also inhibited the pro-tumorigenic GSC-microglia crosstalk via extracellular vesicles (EVs) and delivery of BDNF-AS. In conclusion, propofol exerted anti-tumor effects on GSCs, sensitized these cells to radiation and TMZ, and inhibited their pro-tumorigenic interactions with microglia via transfer of BDNF-AS by EVs.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1921
Issue number15
StatePublished - Aug 2023

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© 2023 by the authors.


  • extracellular vesicles
  • glioblastoma
  • glioma stem cells
  • microglia
  • propofol


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