Glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) is the most common and lethal primary malignant brain tumor in adults. Despite the multimodal standard treatments for GBM, the median survival is still about one year. Analysis of brain tissues from GBM patients shows that lipid droplets are highly enriched in tumor tissues while undetectable in normal brain tissues, yet the identity and functions of lipid species in GBM are not well understood. The aims of the present work are to determine how GBM utilizes fatty acids, and assess their roles in GBM proliferation. Treatment of U138 GBM cells with a monounsaturated fatty acid, oleic acid, induces accumulation of perilipin 2-coated lipid droplets containing triglycerides enriched in C18:1 fatty acid, and increases fatty acid oxidation. Interestingly, oleic acid also increases glucose utilization and proliferation of GBM cells. In contrast, pharmacologic inhibition of monoacylglycerol lipase attenuates GBM proliferation. Our findings demonstrate that monounsaturated fatty acids promote GBM proliferation via triglyceride metabolism, suggesting a novel lipid droplet-mediated pathway which may be targeted for GBM treatment.
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