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Author: Frank Winkler (54)


Dec
1969

This article is the result of a round table discussion held at the European Lung Cancer Conference (ELCC) in Geneva in May 2017. Its purpose is to explore and discuss the advances in the knowledge about the biology and treatment of brain metastases originating from-small cell lung cancer. The authors propose a series of recommendations for research and treatment within the discussed context.

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Dec
1969

Pathogenesis and biology.

Handb Clin Neurol 2018 ;149:43-56
Frank Winkler
Metastasis to the brain is an increasing complication of solid cancers. Fortunately, our understanding of its pathogenesis has greatly increased in the last decade, with crucial insights into the molecular and cellular determinants of successful brain colonization; some aspects remain less well understood. The latter include the exact features of brain metastasis-initiating cancer cells, and a potential premetastatic niche.

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Oct
2017

Patients with glioblastoma (GBM) have a universally poor prognosis and are in urgent need of effective treatment strategies. Recent advances in sequencing techniques unraveled the complete genomic landscape of GBMs and revealed profound heterogeneity of individual tumors even at the single cell level. Genomic profiling has detected epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) gene alterations in more than half of GBMs.

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Jan
2018

Management of glioblastoma in the elderly population is challenging. In the near future, more than half of patients with this tumor will be over the age of 65. Clinicians have been historically reluctant to treat such patients with the same intensity as younger patients.

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Dec
1969

Vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) is a major driver of blood vessel formation. However, the signal transduction pathways culminating in the biological consequences of VEGF signaling are only partially understood. Here, we show that the Hippo pathway effectors YAP and TAZ work as crucial signal transducers to mediate VEGF-VEGFR2 signaling during angiogenesis.

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Jul
2017

Early and progressive colonization of the healthy brain is one hallmark of diffuse gliomas, including glioblastomas. We recently discovered ultralong (>10 to hundreds of microns) membrane protrusions [tumor microtubes (TMs)] extended by glioma cells. TMs have been associated with the capacity of glioma cells to effectively invade the brain and proliferate.

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Dec
1969

Combining in vivo imaging with electron microscopy (EM) uniquely allows monitoring rare and critical events in living tissue, followed by their high-resolution visualization in their native context. A major hurdle, however, is to keep track of the region of interest (ROI) when moving from intravital microscopy (IVM) to EM. Here, we present a workflow that relies on correlating IVM and microscopic X-ray computed tomography to predict the position of the ROI inside the EM-processed sample.

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Oct
2017

Primary and adaptive resistance against chemo- and radiotherapy and local recurrence after surgery limit the benefits from these standard treatments in glioma patients. Recently we found that glioma cells can extend ultra-long membrane protrusions, "tumor microtubes" (TMs), for brain invasion, proliferation, and interconnection of single cells to a syncytium that is resistant to radiotherapy. We wondered whether TMs also convey resistance to the other 2 standard treatment modalities.

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Jul
2017

An increasing body of evidence suggests that solid tumours do not require the generation of new blood vessels, i.e. angiogenesis, to successfully grow, and to colonize normal tissue.

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Dec
1969

Tumour network in glioma.

ESMO Open 2016 19;1(6):e000133. Epub 2016 Dec 19.
Frank Winkler
In this podcast, a new biological insight in brain tumours is discussed. The author's group has identified the existence of a tumour cell network in incurable gliomas which facilitates multicellular communication and exchange of small molecules between single tumour cells. The tumour cells that are integrated in this network, around 50% of cells according to studies in mouse models and patient samples, appear to be protected from the effects of radiotherapy and possibly also chemotherapy, which may explain how such tumours develop resistance to therapies and why patients relapse after treatment.

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Dec
2016

The outcome of patients with anaplastic gliomas varies considerably depending on single molecular markers, such as mutations of the isocitrate dehydrogenase (IDH) genes, as well as molecular classifications based on epigenetic or genetic profiles. Remarkably, 98% of the RNA within a cell is not translated into proteins. Of those, especially microRNAs (miRNAs) have been shown not only to have a major influence on physiologic processes but also to be deregulated and prognostic in malignancies.

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Dec
2016

The role of blood-brain barrier (BBB) integrity for brain tumor biology and therapy is a matter of debate.
We developed a new experimental approach using in vivo two-photon imaging of mouse brain metastases originating from a melanoma cell line to investigate the growth kinetics of individual tumor cells in response to systemic delivery of two PI3K/mTOR inhibitors over time, and to study the impact of microregional vascular permeability. The two drugs are closely related but differ regarding a minor chemical modification that greatly increases brain penetration of one drug.

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Aug
2016

Influencing cancer metabolism by lifestyle changes is an attractive strategy as - if effective - exercise-induced problems may be less severe than those induced by classical anti-cancer therapies. Pursuing this idea, clinical trials evaluated the benefit of e.g.

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Dec
1969

Bevacizumab is frequently used in patients with progressive glioblastoma raising questions regarding frequency of treatments, dosage, duration of therapy and the possibility of tapering and discontinuation for selected patient groups. We retrospectively assessed the safety and outcome of tapering and discontinuation of bevacizumab therapy for reasons other than disease progression and toxicity in 19 patients with progressive glioblastoma receiving bevacizumab for at least 6 months. In 10 of the 19 patients tapering bevacizumab resulted in complete discontinuation and reinitiation after disease progression during halted treatment.

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Dec
1969

Amplification of the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) and its mutant EGFRvIII are among the most common genetic alterations in glioblastoma (GBM), the most frequent and most aggressive primary brain tumor.
In the present work, we analyzed the clonal evolution of these major EGFR aberrations in a small cohort of GBM patients using a unique surgical multisampling technique. Furthermore, we overexpressed both receptors separately and together in 2 patient-derived GBM stem cell lines (GSCs) to analyze their functions in vivo in orthotopic xenograft models.

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Apr
2016

The recent discovery of distinct, ultra-long, and highly functional membrane protrusions in gliomas, particularly in astrocytomas, extends our understanding of how these tumors progress in the brain and how they resist therapies. In this article, we will focus on ideas on how to target these membrane protrusions, for which we have suggested the term "tumor microtubes" (TMs), and the malignant multicellular network they form. First, we discuss TM-specific features and their differential biological functions known so far.

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Feb
2016

Neoangiogenesis is a pivotal therapeutic target in glioblastoma. Tumor monitoring requires imaging methods to assess treatment effects and disease progression. Until now mapping of the tumor vasculature has been difficult.

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Dec
1969

Patients with nonsquamous non-small cell lung cancer (nsNSCLC; largely lung adenocarcinoma) are at high risk of developing brain metastases. Preclinical data suggested that anti-VEGF-A therapy may prevent the formation of nsNSCLC brain metastases. Whether non-brain metastases are also prevented, and whether bevacizumab shows a brain metastases-preventive activity in cancer patients is unknown.

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Jan
2016

Intravital microscopy provides dynamic understanding of multiple cell biological processes, but its limited resolution has so far precluded structural analysis. Because it is difficult to capture rare and transient events, only a few attempts have been made to observe specific developmental and pathological processes in animal models using electron microscopy. The multimodal correlative approach that we propose here combines intravital microscopy, microscopic X-ray computed tomography and three-dimensional electron microscopy.

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Dec
2015

Astrocytic brain tumours, including glioblastomas, are incurable neoplasms characterized by diffusely infiltrative growth. Here we show that many tumour cells in astrocytomas extend ultra-long membrane protrusions, and use these distinct tumour microtubes as routes for brain invasion, proliferation, and to interconnect over long distances. The resulting network allows multicellular communication through microtube-associated gap junctions.

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Nov
2015

The brain metastatic niche.

J Mol Med (Berl) 2015 Nov;93(11):1213-20
Frank Winkler
Metastasizing cancer cells that arrest in brain microvessels have to face an organ microenvironment that is alien, and exclusive. In order to survive and thrive in this foreign soil, the malignant cells need to successfully master a sequence of steps that includes close interactions with pre-existing brain microvessels, and other nonmalignant cell types. Unfortunately, a relevant number of circulating cancer cells is capable of doing so: brain metastasis is a frequent and devastating complication of solid tumors, becoming ever more important in times where the systemic tumor disease is better controlled and life of cancer patients is prolonged.

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Mar
2016

Molecular targets for the pathological vasculature are the vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF)/VEGF receptor axis, integrins, angiopoietins, and platelet-derived growth factor receptor (PDGFR), as well as several intracellular or downstream effectors like protein kinase C beta and mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR). Besides hypoxic damage or tumor cell starvation, preclinical models imply vessel independent tumor regression and suggest differential effects of anti-angiogenic treatments on tumorous and nontumorous precursor cells or the immune system. Despite compelling preclinical data and positive data in other cancers, the outcomes of clinical trials with anti-angiogenic agents in gliomas by and large have been disappointing and include VEGF blockage with bevacizumab, integrin inhibition with cilengitide, VEGF receptor inhibition with sunitinib or cediranib, PDGFR inhibition with imatinib or dasatinib, protein kinase C inhibition with enzastaurin, and mTOR inhibition with sirolimus, everolimus, or temsirolimus.

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Dec
1969

Brain metastases are a common and devastating complication of cancer. The approach to the management of brain metastases is often multidisciplinary and includes surgery, whole-brain radiation therapy (WBRT), stereotactic radiosurgery (SRS), and systemic therapeutic agents. Until recently, systemic therapy has had a limited role in the management of brain metastases because of a lack of activity, challenges of blood-brain barrier penetration, the heterogeneous patient population, and a heavily pretreated patient population.

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Apr
2016

The majority of pediatric phalangeal fractures yield excellent results following conservative or operative treatment. However, a certain subset of fractures is associated with long-term sequelae such as osteonecrosis, physeal growth arrest, malunion, and malposition.
This study summarizes all sequelae following phalangeal fractures treated within a 10-year period (2003-2012).

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Oct
2015

Loss of the tumor suppressor phosphatase and tensin homolog deleted on chromosome 10 (PTEN) is a prerequisite for tumor cell-specific expression of vascular endothelial growth factor receptor (VEGFR)-2 in glioblastoma defining a subgroup prone to develop evasive resistance towards antiangiogenic treatments. Immunohistochemical analysis of human tumor tissues showed VEGFR-2 expression in glioma cells in 19% of specimens examined, mainly in the infiltration zone. Glioma cell VEGFR-2 positivity was restricted to PTEN-deficient tumor specimens.

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Feb
2015

For a targeted cancer vaccine to be effective, the antigen of interest needs to be naturally processed and presented on MHC by the target cell or an antigen-presenting cell (APC) in the tumor stroma. The presence of these characteristics is often assumed based on animal models, evaluation of antigen-overexpressing APCs in vitro, or assays of material-consuming immune precipitation from fresh solid tissue. Here, we evaluated the use of an alternative approach that uses the proximity ligation assay (PLA) to identify the presentation of an MHC class II-restricted antigen in paraffin-embedded tissue sections from patients with brain tumors.

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Dec
2014

Neuroinflammation plays a key role in secondary brain damage after stroke. Although deleterious effects of proinflammatory cytokines are well characterized, direct cytotoxic effects of invading immune cells on the ischemic brain and the importance of their antigen-dependent activation are essentially unknown. Here we examined the effects of adaptive and innate immune cells-cytotoxic T lymphocytes (CTLs) and natural killer (NK) cells-that share the direct perforin-mediated cytotoxic pathway on outcome after cerebral ischemia in mice.

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Dec
2014

The brain microenvironment: friend or foe for metastatic tumor cells?

Neuro Oncol 2014 Dec 13;16(12):1565-6. Epub 2014 Nov 13.
Frank Winkler

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Mar
2014

Studies on the monoclonal VEGF-A antibody bevacizumab gave raise to questions regarding the lack of an overall survival benefit, the optimal timing in the disease course and potential combination and salvage therapies. We retrospectively assessed survival, radiological progression type on bevacizumab and efficacy of salvage therapies in 42 patients with recurrent malignant gliomas who received bevacizumab and nitrosourea sequentially. 15 patients received bevacizumab followed by nitrosourea at progression and 27 patients vice versa.

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Jan
2014

A hypoxic microenvironment induces resistance to alkylating agents by activating targets in the mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) pathway. The molecular mechanisms involved in this mTOR-mediated hypoxia-induced chemoresistance, however, are unclear. Here we identify the mTOR target N-myc downstream regulated gene 1 (NDRG1) as a key determinant of resistance toward alkylating chemotherapy, driven by hypoxia but also by therapeutic measures such as irradiation, corticosteroids, and chronic exposure to alkylating agents via distinct molecular routes involving hypoxia-inducible factor (HIF)-1alpha, p53, and the mTOR complex 2 (mTORC2)/serum glucocorticoid-induced protein kinase 1 (SGK1) pathway.

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Dec
2013

Brain metastases are generally considered to be well demarcated from the surrounding brain parenchyma, although infiltrative growth patterns have been observed. We systemically investigated infiltration patterns and expression of adhesion molecules in a large and well-defined series of autopsy cases of brain metastases.
Ninety-seven autopsy specimens from 57 brain metastasis patients (primary tumor: 27 lung cancer, 6 breast cancer, 8 melanoma, 2 colorectal cancer, 1 kidney cancer, and 13 other) were evaluated for patterns of invasion into surrounding brain parenchyma.

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Sep
2013

Disruption of the blood-brain barrier (BBB) is a hallmark of acute inflammatory lesions in multiple sclerosis (MS) and its animal model experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis. This disruption may precede and facilitate the infiltration of encephalitogenic T cells. The signaling events that lead to this BBB disruption are incompletely understood but appear to involve dysregulation of tight-junction proteins such as claudins.

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Oct
2013

Key steps of cancer progression and therapy response depend upon interactions between cancer cells with the reactive tumour microenvironment. Intravital microscopy enables multi-modal and multi-scale monitoring of cancer progression as a dynamic step-wise process within anatomic and functional niches provided by the microenvironment. These niches deliver cell-derived and matrix-derived signals that enable cell subsets or single cancer cells to survive, migrate, grow, undergo dormancy, and escape immune surveillance.

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Apr
2013

A complex and reciprocal communication of cells with each other and with relevant parts of the tissue stroma governs many biological processes in both health and disease. However, in the past, the study of these anatomical and molecular interactions has suffered from a lack of appropriate experimental models. An imaging methodology aimed at changing this should allow intravital display and quantification in an intact non-traumatized organ, imaging over a wide range of time spans including extended periods (i.

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Dec
2012

Brain metastases (BM) occur in a significant proportion of cancer patients and are associated with considerable morbidity and poor prognosis. The trial design in BM patients is particularly challenging, as many disease and patient variables, statistical issues, and the selection of appropriate end-points have to be taken into account. During a meeting organised on behalf of the European Organisation for Research and Treatment of Cancer (EORTC), methodological aspects of trial design in BM were discussed.

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Feb
2012

Brain metastases (BM) are common in cancer patients and are associated with high morbidity and poor prognosis, even after intensive multimodal therapy including resection, radiotherapy (stereotactic radiosurgery or whole brain radiotherapy) and chemotherapy. However, advances in the understanding of the pathobiology of BM and the development of molecular targeted agents hold promise for improved prophylaxis and therapy of BM. Here we provide a comprehensive review of the current concepts on mechanisms of the brain-metastatic cascade involving hematogenous dissemination of tumor cells, attachment to microvessel endothelial cells, extravasation into the brain, interaction with the local microenvironment, angiogenesis and intraparenchymal proliferation.

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Oct
2011

Bevacizumab targets VEGF-A and has proved beneficial in glioma patients, improving clinical symptoms by the reduction of tumor edema. However, it remains controversial whether or not bevacizumab exerts antitumor effects in addition to (and potentially independent of) its effects on tumor vessels, and it is unknown what doses are needed to achieve this.
We established a novel orthotopic glioma mouse model that allowed us to simultaneously study the kinetics of the morphologic and functional vascular changes, tumor growth, and the viability of individual tumor cells during the course of anti-VEGF therapy in the same microscopic tumor region in real-time.

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Nov
2010

Therapy and prophylaxis of brain metastases.

Expert Rev Anticancer Ther 2010 Nov;10(11):1763-77
Yvonne Kienast, Frank Winkler
Metastases of various tumors to the brain account for the majority of brain cancers, and are associated with a poor prognosis. The most common primary sites are lung, breast, skin, kidney and colon; 10-40% of cancer patients develop brain metastases during the course of the disease. The incidence of brain metastasis appears to be rising; reasons may include better therapies for the systemic disease with longer survival of cancer patients but lower efficiency against brain metastases.

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Jan
2010

Brain metastasis frequently occurs in individuals with cancer and is often fatal. We used multiphoton laser scanning microscopy to image the single steps of metastasis formation in real time. Thus, it was possible to track the fate of individual metastasizing cancer cells in vivo in relation to blood vessels deep in the mouse brain over minutes to months.

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Sep
2009

Infiltration of cancer cells into normal tissue is a hallmark of malignant gliomas and compromises treatment options. A lack of appropriate models limits the study of this invasion in vivo, which makes it difficult to fully understand its anatomy and the role of dynamic interactions with structures of the normal brain. We developed a novel methodology by utilizing multiphoton laser scanning microscopy (MPLSM) to image the movement of glioma cells deep within the normal brain of live mice in real time.

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Mar
2009

Statins exert multiple effects besides lowering the serum cholesterol level, which might be beneficial for patients with sepsis and infections. We designed this study to assess the therapeutic potential of simvastatin in an established animal model of pneumococcal meningitis, a disease characterized by high morbidity and mortality despite effective antibiotic treatment. 24 h after injection of live pneumococci into the cisterna magna of mice, animals were clinically evaluated, cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) leukocyte counts and intracranial pressure were determined, and brains were removed for assessment of bacterial titer and blood-brain barrier breakdown.

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Jun
2007

The effects of antiangiogenic therapy on tumors relapsing after irradiation are not known. To this end, we irradiated human tumors growing s.c.

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Apr
2006

The role of placenta growth factor (PlGF) in pathologic angiogenesis is controversial. The effects of PlGF on growth, angiogenesis, and metastasis from orthotopic tumors are not known. To this end, we stably transfected three human cancer cell lines (A549 lung, HCT116 colon, and U87-MG glioblastoma) with human plgf-2 full-length cDNA.

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Mar
2005

Tissue-type plasminogen activator (tPA) and urokinase-type plasminogen activator (uPA) have been suggested to play an important role in inflammatory diseases. Increased levels of tPA, uPA, uPA receptor (uPAR), and their inhibitor, plasminogen activator inhibitor (PAI)-1, have been found in the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) of patients with bacterial meningitis. Here, we show that expression of tPA, uPA, uPAR, PAI-1, and PAI-2 is up-regulated during experimental pneumococcal meningitis.

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Dec
2004

The recent landmark Phase III clinical trial with a VEGF-specific antibody suggests that antiangiogenic therapy must be combined with cytotoxic therapy for the treatment of solid tumors. However, there are no guidelines for optimal scheduling of these therapies. Here we show that VEGFR2 blockade creates a "normalization window"--a period during which combined radiation therapy gives the best outcome.

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Jun
2004

Elevated interstitial fluid pressure, a hallmark of solid tumors, can compromise the delivery of therapeutics to tumors. Here we show that blocking vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) signaling by DC101 (a VEGF-receptor-2 antibody) decreases interstitial fluid pressure, not by restoring lymphatic function, but by producing a morphologically and functionally "normalized" vascular network. We demonstrate that the normalization process prunes immature vessels and improves the integrity and function of the remaining vasculature by enhancing the perivascular cell and basement membrane coverage.

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Mar
2004

Gliomas are the most common primary tumours of the central nervous system, with nearly 15,000 diagnosed annually in the United States and a lethality approaching 80% within the first year of glioblastoma diagnosis. The marked induction of angiogenesis in glioblastomas suggests that it is a necessary part of malignant progression; however, the precise molecular mechanisms underlying the regulation of brain tumour growth and angiogenesis remain unresolved. Here we report that a candidate tumour suppressor gene, ING4, is involved in regulating brain tumour growth and angiogenesis.

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Aug
2003

Interleukin (IL)-6 is a multifunctional cytokine with diverse actions and has been implicated in the pathophysiology of many neurological and inflammatory disorders. In this study, we investigated the role of IL-6 in pneumococcal meningitis. Cerebral infection in wild-type (WT) mice caused an increase in vascular permeability and intracranial pressure (ICP), which were significantly reduced in IL-6-/- mice.

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Nov
2002

The urokinase plasminogen activator system has the potency to promote leukocyte recruitment and blood-CSF barrier breakdown, and thus may play an important pathophysiologic role in bacterial meningitis.
CSF and serum concentrations of urokinase-plasminogen activator (urokinase [uPA]), uPA receptor (uPAR), and PA inhibitor-1 (PAI-1) were quantified by ELISA in 12 patients with bacterial meningitis, control patients (n = 10) with noninflammatory neurologic diseases, and 10 patients with Guillain-Barré syndrome (GBS), a disease in which blood-CSF barrier disruption occurs without CSF pleocytosis. Casein zymography was used to determine PA-dependent plasminogen activation in the CSF.

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