Single-cell characterization of human GBM reveals regional differences in tumor-infiltrating leukocyte activation

Glioblastoma (GBM) harbors a highly immunosuppressive tumor microenvironment (TME) which influences glioma growth. Major efforts have been undertaken to describe the TME on a single-cell level. However, human data on regional differences within the TME remain scarce. Here, we performed high-depth single-cell RNA sequencing (scRNAseq) on paired biopsies from the tumor center, peripheral infiltration zone and blood of five primary GBM patients. Through analysis of > 45’000 cells, we revealed a regionally distinct transcription profile of microglia (MG) and monocyte-derived macrophages (MdMs) and an impaired activation signature in the tumor-peripheral cytotoxic-cell compartment. Comparing tumor-infiltrating CD8+ T cells with circulating cells identified CX3CR1high and CX3CR1int CD8+ T cells with effector and memory phenotype, respectively, enriched in blood but absent in the TME. Tumor CD8+ T cells displayed a tissue-resident memory phenotype with dysfunctional features. Our analysis provides a large-scale dissection of GBM-associated leukocytes, serving as a reference map of human GBM-TME.

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