Spatial architecture of high-grade glioma reveals tumor heterogeneity within distinct domains

Published: 8 January 2024| Version 3 | DOI: 10.17632/wc8tmdmsxm.3
Saskia Freytag


Background: High-grade gliomas (HGG) are aggressive primary brain cancers with poor response to standard regimens, driven by immense heterogeneity. In isocitrate dehydrogenase (IDH) wild-type high-grade glioma (glioblastoma, GBM), increased intra-tumoral heterogeneity is associated with more aggressive disease. Methods: Spatial technologies can dissect complex heterogeneity within the tumor ecosystem by preserving cellular organization in situ. We employed GeoMx® digital spatial profiling, CosMx® spatial molecular imaging, Xenium® in situ mapping and Visium® spatial gene expression in experimental and validation patient cohorts to interrogate the transcriptional landscape in HGG. Results: Here, we construct a high-resolution molecular map of heterogeneity in GBM and IDH-mutant patient samples to investigate the cellular communities that compose high-grade glioma. We uncovered striking diversity in the tumor landscape and degree of spatial heterogeneity within the cellular composition of the tumors. The immune distribution was diverse between samples, however consistently correlated spatially with distinct tumor cell phenotypes, validated across tumor cohorts. Reconstructing the tumor architecture revealed two distinct niches, one composed of tumor cells that most closely resemble normal glial cells, associated with microglia; and the other niche populated by monocytes and mesenchymal tumor cells. Conclusions: This primary study reveals high levels of intra-tumoral heterogeneity in high-grade gliomas, associated with a diverse immune landscape within spatially localized regions.



Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research, University of Melbourne Institute